In a TV programme (Grand Designs Abroad) I came across about a year ago, 2 hard-up artists were rebuilding a house in Puglia, Southern Italy themselves. They were learning how to build whilst on the job. I watched fascinated when the man was shown how to build an arch the way the ancient Romans had built. He had a arched frame of wood and piece by piece, he took the stones and cemented them together on top of the frame to form a curve. Finally in triumph, he put the keystone, the centrepiece in place.
You The Other Person
This was the stone, without which the arch would collapse.
It struck me then how powerful an image this was of trust. The arch describes a relationship between 2 people, one side you, the other, the other person. Trust gets built, stone by stone on the small risks each takes towards the other.
When you want to influence someone positively, you want them to trust you. So what are those risks that mean eventually, this person forms such a high opinion of you, they promote your interests, advance your cause and in short, be your advocate?
Firstly, you need to know yourself. Self awareness is a powerful asset. You know who you are and what influences you to be able to manage yourself respectfully and positively. You give of your best in knowledge, skills and value. You present your best self to the other person.
Secondly, you make it your business to get to know the other person. You listen, you pay attention, you learn. Job titles and Linked In profiles may give you clues but they don’t mean you come close to knowing anything about the person inside. No, no. It’s putting in the effort of making this person important to you. It helps if you are aware of Cialdini’s Six Principles of Influence . However the most seductive and persuasive tool is to actively listen. It means clearing your mind of all distractions including yourself and your internal chatter and really pay attention to the other person.
Third and most importantly – the Keystone of your relationship is in the small demonstrations of how they matter to you. You show that you remember what they’ve said or how they’ve reacted. You take them into consideration. You think on their behalf. You put their interests high on your agenda – even at times before your own.
I remember a story in “The Trusted Adviser” of an attorney who was acting on behalf of a company director fighting with members of his family over the shares in the family firm. On the steps of the law court just before the hearing to determine who would win, the lawyer saw what it was costing this man in pain and upset. Even though he was giving away fat fees by acting in court, he advised his client to settle. This is a demonstration of exactly what I mean. His client’s best interests long term were not being served by continuing the contest. And he used his best judgement and behaved with integrity.
It’s interesting to note that his client then used his law firm for all his and his company’s other legal needs for years afterwards.
If you behave with integrity and put the other person’s best interests even before your own, it’s then that your client really trusts and believes in you. This is the Keystone that inspires trust. It ensures you and your interests matter to them.