The Annual Edelman Trust Barometer shows an overall reduction of trust in the four institutions it measures; the government, media, business and nongovernmental institutions. In addition, the credibility of “a person like yourself” – often a source of news and information on social media, has dipped to an all-time low in the studies history. The survey shows trust falling more steeply in the United States than in any of the 28 countries surveyed, despite the robust economy and booming stock market. The survey also showed that Americans’ trust in their own companies fell more steeply than in any other country. Richard Edelman, head of the communications marketing firm that commissioned the research, said “The United States is enduring an unprecedented crisis of trust.” Why is that, and could it be happening in your business?
The survey sites a number of reasons for this discord. The past year has been one of exceptional public opinion volatility, and concerns about issues ranging from stagnant wage growth to mass shootings along with a number of others are juxtaposed against the buoyancy of a strong economy. According to the survey, the result is an unsettled and unnerved public at large. Particularly for business leaders, the survey suggests that this is not the time for inaction or staying silent. Getting employees and customers to trust you can be complicated, but it is imperative to your success. If lost, it may be impossible to recover.
According to Chelsea Berler of the Entrepreneurial Network, the following seven concrete actions build trust in a business environment.
- Demonstrate That You Trust Others. One way to do this is to be generous and forgiving when someone else makes a mistake or disappoints you in some way.
- Create Relationships That Are Mutually Beneficial. Customers and employees all want to believe they are making the right decision to work with you, and trust is about showing people you care about them.
- Directly Address Issues. How you deal with concerns and problems is what instills trust and loyalty.
- Tell the Truth. If you get caught in a lie, no one will trust you.
- Be Flexible and Patient. Trust is built over time, especially when you are dealing with someone who isn’t fortunate enough to have experienced trust in their own life.
- Respect Others Time. To earn others trust, raise your awareness of their time, personal schedule and needs.
- Deliver the Unexpected. The best way to deliver trust is to delight clients and customers.
Sources: The Edelman Trust Barometer; Chelsea Berler, Entrepreneurial Network