I trust some salespeople more than others – and I’m more likely to buy from folks I trust, of course. What inspires my trust in a salesperson? Things like knowing what you’re talking about and being able to address my questions completely and concisely helps, of course. But I’ve found that the number one factor for me to trust somebody I’m meeting for the first time is this: do they demonstrate respect for where I’m coming from, no matter what?
This is applicable to many situations outside of sales, of course. When discussing a disagreement with somebody, I find the same pattern: the more the other person demonstrates respect for me and my point of view – even if they strongly disagree with it – the more likely I am to listen to them and try to find common ground with them.
When somebody is all about their message, their point of view, what they have to say above all … I tune out. They’ve lost me, because they’ve shown no active respect for my thoughts. Let’s say that Religious-Believer X hasn’t been outright disrespectful about the fact that I am an atheist while they talk to me about why I should learn more about their beliefs, and Car-Salesperson-Y has asked me lots of painstaking questions about what I would need in a car, and taken note of my responses. That’s nice and all, but it won’t win my trust – because the discussion is still on their turf; it’s still revolving around the way they see things, i.e., me possibly taking up the religious belief or buying a car.
What’s in it for me?
How willing are these people to see things as I see them? As in, “I’m not looking for a religion to believe in,” or “I’m not really ready to buy a car right now” – how important is this on its own, independent of whether it makes me more or less likely to fulfill their interests? If I express my side of things and notice that what I say is ignored or passed over, BAM! I know right away that they do not deserve my attention. In a world of so much information, options, offers, and sales pitches all over, it’s nice sometimes to have a quick litmus test to weed out people that aren’t worth your time.
Let me reinforce something else: The best recognition of my point of view is the recognition the other person takes the initiative to obtain. If my Religious-Believer-X friend asks me outright what my beliefs are, hears the answer, and then engages with me in a way that welcomes my different point of view, I am more likely to trust them and really listen to them because I have seen that it is a habit of theirs to take my feelings into account – thus, greater trust. Car-Salesperson-Y ideally would take their own initiative also to ascertain my current disposition regarding buying and, upon finding out that I’m not ready to buy a car, no longer brings this up; now that it’s no longer an issue, we are free to form a rapport, and if I am ever ready, I can of course bring it up.
This is a big deal: Everything from political debates to romantic disagreements is influenced by this stuff. How eager is the other person to understand you? How eager are you to understand them?
You can always consult yourself about how you feel – but if you don’t have the same respect for what others tell you about how they feel, you will miss out on ways to connect with them, because they will tune you out. And that’s why, as much as possible, you should take the initiative to show respect for the way those you interact with think. It makes you a whole lot more likeable and trustworthy.