Culture

Building trust and rapport

A person with strong rapport and social skills will habitually be a good listener, instinctively building trust as a result of making the object of their interactions the centre of their empathy and interest.

These same social dynamics of face to face trust-building also apply at the level of organizations and their communications with audiences. In this context, trust is also earned from listening and placing the interests of the audience first.

The opportunity for communications is not simply to inform, but to build connection. The effectiveness of this connection is tied to a key metric—how the audience defines relevant. To the degree that communications achieves relevance becomes the measure of its success, but also, an indicator of the sponsoring organization’s willingness to invest in an authentic connection. In other words, like a friend’s ability to show empathy and to listen, relevancy can be a trust metric.

Too often, what organizations consider relevant for their respective audiences originates from internally-generated assumptions. From the inside looking out, the risk is that these assumptions can be coloured by management biases and agendas—increasing the risk that attempts to connect with the audience may become ineffective or even damaging, especially if judged to be tone-deaf.

In our own work, strengthening a brand’s relationship with key audiences is often the underlying purpose. It is understandable, from a business perspective, brand communications that do not measurably strengthen trust and affinity with key audiences are an expense, not an investment.