“How to Build a Relationship of Mutual Trust”

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.

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“6 Steps to become the Trusted Adviser”

As a friend once said, “Love is a gift. Trust has to be earned.

So how do you know when someone trusts you?

In academia, in business and in life, your reputation is built on trust. A high level of readiness of trust informs people’s decisions to:

  • employ you
  • buy from you
  • promote your interests

whether you’re a university researcher or senior executive. The quality of your work gets you talking to the decision maker…..but it doesn’t get you trusted.

I gave a presentation “Becoming The Trusted Adviser” to a group of corporate financiers last week and asked them – “How do you know when you are trusted?”

One said, “Ah, it’s when they sign your first cheque!”

“No,” I replied, “that’s when they demonstrate a willingness to take the risk of finding out. However many testimonials or trusted friends who’ve referred you, they don’t know yet whether to trust you themselves. The only evidence you have to believe they trust you is when you get the second and subsequent cheques.”

The same could be said when you get hired. They’ve chosen you out of a pool of candidates in the hope you can be trusted. The initial 3 month probationary period gives them the first chance of finding out.

There’s a process of 6 steps to be undergone to achieve this state of trust. We start with:

  1. I don’t know you – the vast majority of the world fall into this category!
  2. I know of you – they’ve heard your name in passing or maybe have seen reference to your name in a paper or conversation.
  3. I have met you – they now recognise your name and possibly your face. They don’t know you yet though they’re willing to give you the time of day.
  4. I like you – they’ve found out you’ve got alot in common. You are welcome to join them at the bar at the end of the day and they’ll probably relax in your company. Be warned though, they still don’t trust you yet. The next step needs time and attention to achieve.
  5. I trust you – this will take a while, certainly in British culture which is reserved and conservative.
  6. I advocate you – they are utterly confident in you. They’ll promote you and your ideas, your theories and your advancement. They’re ready to face opposition and champion you with others.

I imagine  there are only a few people who’ll be within your 6th sphere of influence including, I hope, friends and family. This happy state of grace is your ultimate objective.

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“Leadership Presence: The Inspiring Leader”

Your Impact
As important as who you are and how you come across is what’s going on for your audience. You have to get them on side in order to lead their thinking and decision making.

  • PLU – you have ‘People Like Us’ skills that mean others quickly identify with you and your best interests.
  • Audience know-how – you read your decision maker accurately so you know what they are thinking. You listen intelligently. You are persuasive, encouraging and decisive. You make the decision maker feel good about themselves in your company. They respond positively in the short, medium and long term because you have demonstrated how much you value them, not just what you can get from them.
  • Events – you constantly anticipate events and stage-manage them to your advantage.

To be a leader, you have already worked out your objectives and vision for your company. When you come into a room, you immediately convey purposefully because you’re clear as to why you are there and what outcome you seek.  You will have already written a business plan – what about a plan for your own life? Look very closely at your personal goals and how they marry with the vision for your company. You aren’t likely to be tied to the company you are with forever. Indeed, I hope you’ll have an exit plan of some sort, even if it takes the next 10 – 20 years. To be clear about where you are headed and what you want to accomplish during that time and afterwards, be sure about what you want for your life right now.

There is a finger-like part of the brain called the Reticular Cortex. It helps you to create a magnetic vision – whenever you think of – say, red sports cars – then you keep encountering them. You come across what you are thinking about. So when you’re clear as to what you want and how this person or these people will help you, it opens you to opportunities. It gives you a sense of urgency and energy that makes you far more magnetic – and attractive. It attracts you to the right people with those right opportunities.

What is your intention? This addresses a much bigger issue of what your values are, what’s important to you. You know whether what you are doing takes you towards what you value or away from it. It means being in the right place at the right time engaged in the right activity. This points back to how important it is that you evolved a personal vision that fits with who you are. Then you’ll know exactly what you intend with this person and why. You’ll know your direction and purpose. It reinforces your “presence” in the room.

Having Leadership Presence means that your attention is fully present. Inspiring leaders give their absolute attention to the matter in hand which makes them extremely attractive. People turn round when they enter a room, not because they make a big noise, but because they bring their whole concentration and focus into the present moment.

When US President Bill Clinton visited Oxford, a friend of mine was deeply impressed by his charisma as he came into the room. “When he looked at me, it was as though I was the only person in the room that mattered to him.” They found this quality extraordinarily magnetic.

When you give you fullest attention to what you are doing, you create a powerful bow wave of energy that impacts the person in front of you. It was so powerful in Bill Clinton’s case that America voted him for president twice.

Because you win people’s attention immediately with your Leadership Presence, you command further attention by your movement, your gestures and especially in your speaking. You have condensed and concentrated your power and energy to a fine point in this present moment. This gives you gravitas and presence. You don’t dance attention on others, they are keen to please you.

When you are a fully present, you concentrate on focusing your thoughts and words. You choose your words well so you speak sparingly and to the point. You achieve transparent clarity. You communicate easily and precisely so your meaning is absolutely clear. There is no barrier between what comes out of your mouth and what is understood in the other person’s brain.

There is an additional factor that inspires others. You listen to people intelligently, you read them accurately and position yourself precisely. What other factor excites people’s loyalty and commitment?

YouThe Other Person

What forms the keystone of the arch (the stone without which the arch would collapse) connecting you and the other person, is to demonstrate you care for their best interests. They matter to you. And you really have to mean it. When you provide evidence that their concerns are yours, people will take the risk of trusting you.

Having Leadership Presence draws others on to follow you, be guided by you, say “yes” to you. They respect and support your interests. They’re willing to take risks on your behalf, they engineer opportunities for you, they are your advocates. They believe in you. Why? Because you are their leader.


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“Listen To You, Respect You, Follow You?”

As I said in my previous post, there are 3 fundamental influencers that inspire others to follow, place their confidence and trust in you:

  1. What goes on inside your mind
  2. What you project
  3. What impression you leave

Today, I wanted to explore what you project that ensures your audience respects and listens to you.

What You Project

What are the unconscious influencers you broadcast to others? These go unnoticed though leave a lasting impression.

  • Your presentation – your audience will be assessing how you dress, how you take care of your appearance, how you hold yourself, your poise, your manner.
  • Your focus – how you concentrate on the task in hand whilst taking the other person into consideration.  They are well aware of the quality and depth of your listening.
  • Your communication – when your body language demonstrates your attention, then the appropriate register of language, your voice and your delivery will give them valuable information. All these are need to be relaxed, pleasing and persuasive.

Your presentation
As I’ve said elsewhere, when you look the part, people believe you. Want to be partner in a big City firm of lawyers? You’ll dress formally in a suit (preferably designer or tailored), tie or scarf, well polished shoes, modestly cut hair and minimal yet expensive jewellery. ID-10046982 You’re not likely to be taken seriously if you have piercings, tattoos and lank, greasy hair. Want to be leader in advertising? You are more likely to seen in shirtsleeves and even a T-shirt if you’re male, though women tend to look more formal – look at this list of senior advertising executives . To be seen as leader in your organisation, dress the part. The uniform signals your role.

It’s also worth examining how you hold yourself. Do you have an upright carriage and look people in the eye? Does your body language suggest you are confident and comfortable in your skin? It’s so easy nowadays to slump in front of the computer monitor and acquire round shoulders and a pot belly when you are working at your desk all day. A bad habit I’ve noticed with particularly women is standing at parties or at conferences – or even presenting, with crossed legs and arms. Unbalanced and very defensive. A favourite exercise of mine just before entering a room is to imagine there’s a thread coming out from the middle of my head being pulled upwards.  It lengthens my neck and spine whilst I relax my shoulders. It helps to centre my balance and makes me look strong and confident, particularly in high pressure situations. And having taken on board Dr Amy Cuddy’s wise words, it has an effect on my confidence and outlook.

Your focus
Pay close attention the other person or people around you. If you do that, unconsciously you’ll automatically mirror their body language. Listening closely is a fine art and deeply flattering. Having made a living out of listening to people for the last 30 years, I’ve come to realise that you can never do it too well. It takes energy and concentration. You are watching and listening not only to what is said, you are listening to what is not said through the minute changes of the other person’s facial and body language and voice. It is reassuringly rare to come across a supremely good liar. Most people are trustworthy most of the time. The truth will “leak” from those marginal differences, those fraction of a second revelations. You might also discover that the speaker will say something dubious and other colleagues or board members will show their discomfort. Keep vigilant, keep watchful. It’s particularly important when you are in negotiation – as a supplier, as a potential customer, as an investor.

Your delivery
What you say and how you say it will leave a lasting impression. Your voice is one of the most powerful influencers of the other’s unconscious decision making. The voice, situated between the inner and outer self is a reflector what’s really going on inside. It may well crack when the speaker is powerfully stirred. Look at this wonderful and heartfelt speech by Patrick Stewart as an example of someone whose voice normally has a smooth, resonant tone breaking under the strain of talking about deeply felt events in childhood.

It’s as well to cultivate a warm, deep and harmonious tone to inspire trust and confidence. Speakers that use the major key in their voices (the white notes on a piano), sound convincing and trustworthy. Those who use the minor key come across as uncertain, worried and lack confidence. This is exaggerated if they also use the uplift in pitch at the end of sentences beloved of Australian soaps and Californian youth.

The language you use also has the power to inspire. I was at a conference where Lara Morgan spoke. She used direct, no-nonsense language that was utterly clear and straight to the point. As an entrepreneur herself, she used the language of her entrepreneurial audience. It spoke to the heart. It was very exciting and enabling.

Adapt what you say and the ‘register’ of language dependent on the audience you are addressing. The words you use to those on the shop floor will be different to those you use in the boardroom. However, choose to be succinct and precise in every situation. It gives you time to listen to others and adds weight and punch. It shows you to be self disciplined and rigorous.

A last suggestion. When you cultivate a serious and committed attitude to what you do, you come across with gravitas. This doesn’t mean you don’t smile from time to time. Though being extravagant with your smiles diminishes your impact. And a smile can turn into a grimace if you’re tense and nervous. You don’t need to smile until there’s something to smile about. Then everyone around you feels warmed and rewarded.


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“Leadership Presence: The Three Influencers That Win Trust”

As a leader, your role is to get people to follow you. You will win your first agreement  because you are trusted – you will have convinced people to believe you, believe what you say is true, to believe in your judgement. Trust has to be earned. How do you do that?

Leadership Presence is that added magic unconscious influencer that creates the trust that gets others to buy in. It’s in your intention, your attitude, your behaviour, your performance – who and how you are with your audience. In creating ‘presence’, 3 things are happening at the same time. These unconscious influencers are:

  1. What’s going on inside you (Your Inner Game)
  2. What’s going on outwardly your external process, how you manage your unconscious communication and your language (Your Outer Game)
  3. What’s going on with your audience (Your Impact)

Your Inner Game 

What’s going on inside you is fundamental to your ability to influence others. It is determined by how convinced you are, how well you influence yourself. And there is no point in pretending – people will sniff out a mismatch between what’s in your head and what you are doing. You cannot put on a mask and expect to get away with it[1]. The watcher’s unconscious mind will perceive and log your facial expressions and body language even if they don’t consciously notice them. So you will be spotted, whether you like it or not.

Your prospects are likely to be unconsciously picking up the information that determines whether they trust you. They will be asking themselves:

  • Your self belief – can they trust your judgement? How well do you influence yourself? Do you trust yourself? Based on what?
  • Your self awareness – do you have inner knowledge of your strengths and how to play them? Do you know your weaknesses and how to overcome them?
  • Your optimism – do you believe in future possibilities and opportunities?
  • Your motivation – how hungry are you? How badly do you want this? By how much?
  • Your integrity – can they rely on you, your truthfulness and your honesty?
  • Your intention – are you clear as to your mission for yourself and your team?
  • Your purposefulness – are you are certain and sure of your direction?
  • Your drive – are you excited and inspired by your vision? Are you willing to commit the energy to make it a reality?
  •  Your determination – are you resilient and steady in ‘holding the line’ under fire? Are you unshakable in the face of adversity? Do you recover quickly from set backs?
  • Your commitment – are you prepared to sacrifice, give up and give away a great deal to stay loyal to your promise? Do you mean it?
  • Your self discipline – are you ready to strive all day and every day to fulfill your objectives? Are you rigorous about planning and preparation? Do you prioritise your time and attention?
  • Your self care – do you exercise and pay attention to your own health and other needs? Do you give yourself time away from the office? Do you spend time with friends and family?
  • Your gravitas – do you take what you do and what you believe seriously? Do you act on it?

Next time: we’ll explore Your Outer Game

[1] Paul Ekman  voted one of the top psychologists of the 20th century researched the changes in facial expression that flit across people’s faces even when they are trying to conceal or repress them. He discovered 3,000 different expressions that appear 1/15th – 1/25th of a second on someone’s face.

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“A Critical Audience: How To Turn Things Around With A Risky Manoeuvre”

“No, no, it’s all about the price. Never mind about relationships with customers when they’ll go on the ‘net and find a better price elsewhere.”

My friend, Cathy Rhodes of Culminas, and I were presenting to a group of auto parts suppliers last June at their regular quarterly meeting.  Cathy, a very experienced marketer who’s led campaigns for big multi-national brands such as Coca-Cola, had just outlined her pitch:

  • Identify your ideal customer
  • Attract them
  • Encourage them to be your advocates

My pitch was how to attract and convert customers based on an understanding of their personality and outlook.

This was when someone protested that they could only compete on price. The rest nodded and murmured agreement. It was clear we had an uphill task.

What on earth was I doing? This was definitely not my “Ideal Customer”. These men (yes, all men) weren’t university doctoral students or scientific/engineering senior women. Well, it was the toughest audience I was likely to face – sceptical, challenging and critical. We had committed the cardinal mistake. We’d been asked at the very last minute and hadn’t researched our audience!

How did we turn it around? By asking them. We asked about their experience. We turned it around by making our presentation very interactive. We made it clear we didn’t know and were keen to find out. They loved it. Suddenly the room came alive. They competed with each other to share thoughts, concerns, worries. It was plain the economic climate made their lives difficult and they were glad to speak about the pressure they were under.

You can still turn things around, even after you’ve started your presentation. It’s a risky manoeuvre. You have to evaluate the level of risk. It’s important your audience knows your worth – Cathy has a credibility without question thanks to her track record. And we knew this audience were willing to give us a chance. When you ask them to contribute, you have to be sure they will –  not just sit there in silence. You have to be confident about handling the consequence. And one more thing, you really, really need to show you care. You must want to listen. So shut up, sum up what you’ve heard and check out whether you’ve got it correct. Respect your audience. Show them they matter. Then they’ll respond positively. They’ll care about you.

How do I know we turned it around? Well, Cathy and I have been invited back. We’ll be speaking again to the group next Thursday. And this time, it’s going to be interactive, right from the start!

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“That 180 Degree Change That Makes Your Audience Sit Up And Listen!”

In the days when I practised as a psychotherapist, it fascinated me that colleagues, otherwise intelligent, sensitive and well educated people seemed convinced that merely announcing their presence would ensure a steady stream of clients. What amused me was the surprise and outrage when no one came through the door. By then I had learnt the hard way (by spending good money on marketing courses) to:

  1. Decide on who’d be my ideal client (my target market)
  2. Think about what they did, what they read, what would interest them, where they’d be found, what work they’d do and especially what they needed
  3. Figure out what messages would get them excited, asking questions and wanting to know more about the benefits and results of working with me.

In other words, I would need to know them very well and speak to them clearly about the outcomes of our work together. It worked – I had a successful North Oxford practice for 25 years.

More recently, I had a similar sensation when working with engineering students to make influential presentations and promote their innovation. They’d only known academic study. They were used to making internal presentations that talked about what they’ve done. It was a big challenge for them therefore to make that 180 degree change to become audience focused.

It’s almost banal to mention that your audience isn’t interested in what you do. People will only listen if you tell them what you can do for them.

  1. “What are the needs or problems of my audience that I’ve a solution for?” Knowing that means they’ll start to connect when you identify the issues they’ve been bothered or preoccupied by.
  2. “What’s their background?” What information will make them supportive or opposed? It does no harm to mention the elephant in the room – the unspoken something that could be an obstacle to their acceptance of your argument.
  3. “What’s the language they use to describe their problem or issue?” Knowing the words or phrases they use could really make them sit up and take notice.
  4. “What do I want them to think, feel or do afterwards?” Vital. Unless you’re clear about the outcome, it won’t happen! Your audience needs your guidance and if you’ve got them on side, then they’ll be keen to take action. Tell them.

It’s always struck me when planning any successful presentation, the two things which need to be foremost in your mind are:

  1. Do you know your audience?
  2. Do you know your desired outcomes?

If you’ve answered both, you’ve cracked it!

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