There is little that's more important in business than trust. Whether we're talking about communication between a company and its customers, employees, suppliers, or the public at large, communicating with integrity is vital. Without it, relationships suffer, and business, ultimately, is all about relationships.
It's not just the words that are used in communications that provide a sense of trust and integrity. The way things are said also plays a significant part in any communications. People learn from an early age that factors such as body language, tone of voice, and pitch are important in interpreting someone's meaning in what they say. Similarly, other types of communication, such as print, video, and audio depend on more than words to convey their intended message.
3 Keys for Trustworthy Communication
So, how can a business ensure it is communicating in a way that expresses trust and integrity? It comes down to understanding how people interpret various forms of communication and then using that knowledge to construct you message the right way. Here are 3 keys to keep in mind when planning any form of communications:
1. Know your heart from your head. When we communicate "from our head," we tend to use logic, facts, and figures. Head-centered communication can come across as cold and even uncaring. This doesn't necessarily translate into a lack of integrity, but it can be a barrier to communicating trust, because people tend to trust communication they are comfortable with, not the type that is "standoffish."
Sometimes it's necessary to communicate facts and figures. So, when creating web or marketing copy, scripts, or speeches, find ways to make facts and figures more heart-centered and personal. What do the numbers really mean to your audience? In sales, we talk about the importance of communicating the benefit of a product or service. This is a great way to turn cold facts into heartfelt concern for what your offerings will mean to your customers.
2. Know what you're talking about. People trust companies and individuals who they feel know their stuff. Communicating your knowledge can be tricky, because people don't tend to trust those who brag or have inflated egos. So be sure to communicate your expertise through helping people to solve problems. That's one of the best ways to build trust in a relationship.
When it comes to marketing and other forms of non-verbal communication, demonstrate your company's knowledge and expertise in your communications. If you're notÂ the industry leader, don't claim to be, but act as if you are by knowing your field inside and out and displaying your expert status in a non-gloating way, and you may soon find yourself in that position.
3. Be truthful. It should go without saying that actually having integrity and being honest are the best way to communicate trust and integrity, but you're probably aware that not everyone gets that. Every day we see the results of people and companies in the limelight that chose not to be completely honest and suffered the consequences.
The clearest way to communicate integrity, whether in face-to-face conversation or in your marketing and internal communications, is to actually tell the truth. Know what you want to say before you say it, and have no doubts that it's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If you don't know, admit you don't know, and commit to finding the answer. If you make something up instead, it's likely to come back to bite you.
Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.