“I’ll Hold The Ball, Charlie Brown” (Customers trust Part I)

When I think about trust Charlie Brown comes to mind. Lucy always insists on holding the football for him to kick.

He chooses to trust her; all the while suspicious that she will jerk the ball away at the last moment causing him to fall flat on his back. Never disappointing him, she does exactly that, consistently betraying his trust.

What exactly is trust?

It is the extent to which I am willing to put myself in a vulnerable position under particular circumstances. It is my having confidence that you will behave in a positive way fully aware that I could be hurt if you don’t, while knowing that I have no control over how you behave.

I trust you to do the right thing.

I trust you to hold the football while I punt.

Emile Balzac said back in 1799, You don’t have to like your banker, you just have to trust him. I beg to differ. My grandmother ran a plumbing shop for many years. She always chuckled when she said, “you’ve got to do business with your friends, because your enemies sure won’t do business with you.” Friends are the people we trust. We do business with those we trust.

An enduring business relationship is always built on trust, and to some degree, on friendship

Trust is in short supply these days.

The fall of Enron and the scandals that rocked big financial institutions over the past few years have impacted our ability to trust. People are more wary than they have been since the Vietnam War era, and before that, the Great Depression. But social psychologists hypothesize that there is another factor that creates distrust in people.

Researchers believe that apart from these scandals, wariness, and scarcity of trust in the marketplace are signs of the times or the malaise of the new millennium. Apart from past scandals There are four sociological reasons why people are wary. They are the overabundance of choices, the accelerated rate of change, information overload, and time constrains.

1. Overabundance of choices (Overwhelming Choices)
There are just too many things for people to choose from, so many choices that people “freeze.”  Remember hearing that Henry Ford said, “you can have a car in any color you like, as long as it’s black”? Now you can get all kinds of features on your car, your pizza, your phone, and your coffee. The flooding, the overloading of our senses by so many choices, makes us anxious and wary. It’s as if, “I can’t choose, there is just too much, so I give up!”

2. Change Happens Quickly (Change Fatigue)
Life is changing at such a dizzying rate that we are constantly having to learn new things just to stay up with technology – Look at the top of your web browser. A few months ago little symbols started popping up. I recognize the one for Facebook, but there are others. A blue and black box for Delicious, a line of little block figures for Myspace, An SU for Stumbled upon, a T for, well I know what that one’s for: Twitter. I can barely do Facebook, and now I have all these other things to learn. I’m overwhelmed.

3. Too much information (Information Overload)
Another thing that makes us wary is the flood of information about all that we might consider purchasing. You can google a product or a company and find the good, bad, the ugly, and sometimes just pulp fiction. Can you ever know too much? Don’t ask about that sushi, or think too much about that veal parmigiana. You don’t want to know too much about the other people who slept in that hotel room the night before you did… sometimes too much information is just downright disturbing. They got Bin Laden, and that’s enough, I don’t need to see the pictures. Yet we have it, all that extraneous information and it overwhelms us. There’s a point at which you have all the information you need about a product. Going beyond that begins to numb the mind and confuse the issue. Our brains can’t keep track of it all. We back off, get anxious, wary and distrustful.

4. Time Constraints (Hurry up, my schedule is full)
We live in a rushed world of fast food and full schedules. Our time is parceled into teeny tiny slivers with nothing to spare. A friend told me recently he learned a lesson long ago, leave the margins of his life uncluttered and open, and not to schedule every minute of every day on his calendar. He began scheduling meetings with himself and discovered he really liked those meetings. From there he determined not to schedule in the margins of his life. Our margins, and all the lines in our schedule are crammed full of stuff. Having every minute of our lives filled with busyness makes our anxiety level go through the roof. Anxiety makes us wary. Trust is the casualty of our wariness.

So even if you’re doing everything right to earn trust in the marketplace the cards are stacked against you.  Don’t despair, there is something you can do.  I call it Taming The Wild Cat….  

Look for more… see you soon!

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About Tim

I am a corporate speaker and author of “Powerful Listening. Powerful Influence.” I help people unleash their untapped potential to succeed at leadership, communication, professional development by helping them understand how to get along and share their toys in the workplace. Learn more about me at encorelifeskills.com

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