How to win trust in business

Columnist Ryan Windsor. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Columnist Ryan Windsor. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

I agree with American businessman Stephen Covey that trust is essential and it is also critical to commercial and economical growth - but it is a tricky subject to get our heads around.

It is not easy to define what trust is and hence it is studied extensively in behavioural economics.

A clear example of how trust works is to imagine you are going to the local shop to get some milk. As you approach the fridge you notice it is locked. After convincing the manager to open it up and bring the milk to the counter, you have to negotiate whether you will pay first or the manager will hand over the milk first.

Eventually you exchange at the same time and leave the shop. Can you imagine going through this procedure for every item you buy?

Think about the elaborate processes that would be required to purchase over the internet in a similar scenario. Without trust, these actions would clearly require a lot more time and energy.

Any exchange would be tedious and frustrating.

So how do we build trust in general and with customers in particular? Seven key parameters have been defined to build and sustain trust - rapport, sincerity, openness, respect, integrity, admission and reliability.

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Rapport means you get to know your clients and find common interest which helps to build the foundations of trust.

Treat people with respect. Talk to and deal with others as equals and never as if they were lower or higher than you.

Be reliable by being consistent in your behaviour - become someone others can depend on time and time again.

And admit to any error or failing on your part before it turns into a larger issue. Nip it in the bud.

Trust, in business as much as in life, is a luxury we cannot afford to lose.

It is the difference between the richest and poorest countries, between a rogue trader and a professional commercial enterprise.

Times columnist and entrepreneur Ryan Windsor is the director of Windsor Properties.

Mr Windsor, who is from Thetford and attended Thetford Academy, started his own business at the age of 18.

To ask him a question email