In my columns, I’ve written a lot about founders’ relationships with others, especially investors. The human factor plays a unique role here, for example, in negotiations. So I want to share a few ideas about the basis of any successful human relationship: trust.
Table of Contents
People Work With People
People work with other people. Even if, for example, the basis of cooperation is a contract between two companies, this contract is “lived” by the people who implement the contract. If there are questions, new unregulated situations, or disputes, then the people have to deal with these challenges. And the dispute becomes easier the more trust there is between these people.
Trust Is The Basis
Trust is the basis of every cooperation. It ensures that people approach each other with a positive attitude because they believe that the other person doesn’t mean any harm to you but rather is interested in a proper “up” solution for all parties.
For this reason, successful entrepreneurs sooner or later realise that they need a specific basis of trust concerning their business partners and customers. We all know it ourselves: we trust, for example, that a manufacturer of shoes like Adidas will deliver a certain quality or that a Five Guys burger will at least taste pretty much the same everywhere.
Aspects Of Building Trust
But I am always asked how entrepreneurs and, of course, founders can create trust. I always say that trust doesn’t come suddenly. It will be worked out over time. However, a few aspects play an essential role in building trust. I want to introduce them briefly below. If you want to build and strengthen trust in your business partners, be they suppliers, customers, investors, or team members, you should deal with these aspects and check whether they exist or how they can be improved.
It may not be the most critical point in building trust, but it is undoubtedly one of the simplest. A certain level of competence is essential for trust in a business context. Because if I position myself in a particular area, then I should also “have something on the box” in this regard. If there is a lack of competence, then there is no proof that I can implement what I claim.
Values come next, in my view. We all have these because we all stand for something. What that is precisely, only everyone can decide for themselves. A value can be, for example, that someone negotiates extremely hard and does not shy away from creating pressure, while someone else is more concerned with balancing. There is no right or wrong. But there must be something at all that someone stands for. Because only then can you consider whether you want to deal with this person.
Integrity means that someone stands up for their values and beliefs and does not allow themselves to be swayed by them. In this context, one also speaks of straight “types.” And that makes sense. Because, on the one hand, you want to know what the other person is up to, how they “tick.” On the other hand, you also want this person to show their valuable decisions again and again. This creates reliability and stability, thus protecting against unpredictable, erratic behaviour and thus unnecessary use of energy because you don’t have to adjust to a person again and again.
Closely related to integrity is the aspect of consistency. When you find someone whose values appeal to you, you want to experience again and again that this person’s behaviour is consistent, i.e., predictable in a certain way. Here, too, the aspect of energy and effort plays a role because it is pretty tiring if you have to keep thinking about how a person will behave in a particular situation. Instead, one would like to adjust to the other person and thus be able to assess them. As a result, this leads to a certain degree of predictability, which is intentional and, therefore, positive.
An essential aspect, which unfortunately is not easy to grasp, is the aspect of fairness. We all want to be treated fairly. But what that means precisely is judged differently by everyone. What I consider fair may be pretty unfair to someone else. However, it is about a certain average level of decency, ensuring that no malicious actions are harmful to others. The Imperial Court of Justice coined the term “feeling of decency of all those who think fairly and fairly,” which makes a lot of sense. It is not always clear what individuals consider “fair.” In the mass of people, however, a consensus is formed relatively quickly, making it clear when something is still okay and when something is harmful or indecent.
Trust is unthinkable without loyalty. Loyalty makes people stand up for something – and in relationships, people stand up for someone else. This is expressed, for example, in the fact that mistakes are ironed out that are not your concern, or that you do an extra job even though you don’t have to, but it helps the other person. In principle, loyalty is trust that is repeatedly confirmed because I will only want to deal with a person who is loyal to me, i.e., who does not stab me in the back with their actions, behaviour, or statements or who thwarts my efforts.
The last aspect that I think is important when it comes to trust is the aspect of openness. Openness means I reveal myself as a person, with all positive and negative aspects. Openness is shown, for example, in dealing with mistakes that happen sooner or later and with mistakes made by others. Anyone open makes themselves vulnerable. But he also shows that he is not a machine.
Trust As The Basis Of Business Relationships: Conclusion
In my opinion, founders, in particular, are disproportionately concerned about emphasising their skills and abilities as much as possible. Of course, that’s not bad. But in my opinion, they should work equally hard to create a sufficiently broad and resilient basis of trust among their business partners, customers, investors, and the like.
This will pay off when things don’t go as planned and bad news needs to be communicated. It is said that trust is the basis of everything. A lot can develop from trust. However, further developments are not even considered possible if there is a lack of trust.