• transform from ordinary to extraordinary

  • empowering our clients to improve performance

How to Build Trust in Business Relationships


Being really good at building trust makes an enormous difference to your ability to get results in business.

Trust is a word that’s getting a lot of use right now. This is mostly because of a lack of trust in governments, institutions like banks, politicians, CEOs of large corporations etc.

At the same time, it’s widely accepted that we all like to do business with people we know, like and trust. So if we want people to do business or work well with us we have to bridge the trust deficit.

Let’s start by looking at our relationships with individuals and then explore three critical steps in how to build trust with your clients, team members or boss.


How fight or flight influences trust

Even digital natives in the twenty-first century are still subconsciously driven by ancient survival mechanisms embedded deep in their brains, the most well-known being the stress response, or the fight or flight response.

This response is how your body tries to cope with a perceived threat, whether that’s a deadline, an important meeting, a traffic jam or a tiger. Your body releases the hormones adrenaline and cortisol into your bloodstream and directs your blood flow to your muscles and brain to increase your stamina and awareness, giving you the power to fight or escape from the perceived threat.

This old response is watching out for our welfare every moment of our lives. It is why, when you meet someone for the first time, you know within thirty seconds whether you like or dislike them, and it is why you can react so strongly to people you’ve never even met, but have only seen on TV.

Subconsciously, you are considering an unspoken question – Are you my lunch or am I your lunch?

You can also see this in the way people respond to you. Have you ever made a suggestion to your manager or put a proposal to a client and been surprised when their reaction was totally different to what you expected?

The most common cause is that you have communicated in a way that suits you but not them.


3 Keys to Trust Building

These 3 Keys are –

  • Understanding
  • Empathy
  • Flexibility


Take time to study the person you need to build trust with.  How do they present themselves face-to-face and online?  Do they enjoy talking, underlining their points with hand gestures and mobile face or do they like to get to the point quickly and seem more contained?

Do they need a lot of data/information or just the main points?

Are they readers or listeners?  Do they like to have an email or document to consider or do they prefer you to just explain the issue?


When this person is dealing with a difficult issue can you empathise with them?  This is not about expressing sympathy.  It is about putting yourself in their shoes and showing them that you understand.


Trust building is not all about you.  It is all about the other person and their needs.

Is the way they prefer to communicate identical to yours? If not, you need to be flexible and modify the way you communicate to be closer to their preference.

The Business Relationship app

In our work we’ve helped hundreds of people, from sales people to CEOs, become really competent on those 3 Keys to Trust Building. This has helped them achieve their business results much more easily.

The unique tool we provide them with is The Business Relationship app.  This runs on your smartphone or tablet and makes it really easy for you to –

  • understand anyone you deal with
  • know exactly what action you need to take to build and sustain trust with them

If you’d like more information about The Business Relationship app please Contact us


About the Authors

John P Dawson & Carmel McDonald are the co-owners of Dawson McDonald Consulting.  They’ve helped hundreds of organisations and their people improve performance.  They are accredited as experts by the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI).  They can be reached at info@dawsonmcdonald.com.au

Check out their book with their insights into how to achieve high performance –

BUILD Your Business: From Ordinary to Extraordinary, 5 Steps To High Performance

To get your copy of this book, or to download a free sample chapter, click here

Trust Image: Shutterstock


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