Importance of Establishing Trust in Business

6 Minute Read

How to Build Trust with Customers in Different Cultures

Trust is one of the most important aspects of a successful business. Research by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that business partners that trust one another spend less time protecting themselves and more time working on things that will make their business successful. Furthermore, their research also found that trust often leads to more successful negotiations.

Understanding how to build and keep trust is crucial for all businesses. In today’s global society, it’s becoming increasingly common to work with business partners in other cultures. Therefore, leaders who want to establish and maintain trust with clients and business partners should have a good understanding of how different cultures perceive trustworthiness.

In this article, we are going to discuss how different cultures determine who is trustworthy, how you can build trust, and the keys for maintaining trust throughout the entirety of your business relationship.

How to Build Trust with Partners Around the World

Here is a quick breakdown of how different cultures perceive trustworthiness. Understanding what other cultures value when it comes to trust will help you build valuable relationships with them.

  • North American and European Cultures. These cultures see openness as the most important factor when it comes to establishing trust. If a person is forthcoming in discussions and willing to openly discuss ideas, that is seen as a sign of trust. They also tend to implicitly trust someone until they have a reason not to – “innocent until proven guilty.
  •  East Asian Cultures. East Asian cultures value competency. When establishing trust, they will first research a person’s reputation to understand them a little better. Then, they will want to meet face-to-face (or via video chat) to evaluate their competency. Finally, they will socialize after a business meeting to get to know their partner in a casual setting and further establish trust.
  • Middle Eastern and South Asian Cultures. These cultures value respect above all else. They don’t mind working with people who have different values, but people they do business with are expected to respect their values. Furthermore, people in these cultures tend to verify that a person is trustworthy before deciding whether or not to trust them.
  •  Latin American Cultures: Latin American cultures tend to trust people who share their values. They believe that people trust each other because they are similar to one another. In order to determine shared values (or lack thereof), they must engage in personal conversations. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for people from Latin American cultures to want to get on a personal level with someone before discussing business.

Understanding how each of these cultures perceives trustworthiness is the first step to building trust. Once you understand their values, you can begin to behave in ways that will build trust with your clients and partners around the world.

How to Maintain Trust

Once you establish trust, you must work every day to keep it. Taking another person’s trust for granted may result in loss of business or the dissolution of a valuable relationship. Here are 3 tips for maintaining trust in your business relationships:

  1. Show that you trust others

    Be generous with second chances and forgiving mistakes; hand out responsibilities without micro-managing; have faith that your partners can find a solution to a problem with processes that are different than your own. Giving trust is one of the easiest ways to receive it.

  2. Talk about issues immediately

    Directly discuss issues if and when they arise. Dealing with customer and partner concerns head-on will show that you value their time and peace of mind. It’s best to get ahead of an issue and communicate from the beginning instead of trying to perform damage control after the fact.

  3. Respect their time

    Be aware of your clients’ and partners’ schedules and personal needs. Technology allows us to have 24/7 access to people, but that kind of access should not be expected.

    • Notice which time zone your client is in
    • Return calls and emails quickly
    • Communicate business operation hours
    • Be on time for meetings
    • Alert your client or partner if you will be late as soon as you can – do not make them wait for you without giving any notice.
How Trust Influences Business Decisions

Trust is incredibly important when it comes to making decisions – especially if those decisions are made with another person.

For example, this study found that there is a correlation between a patients’ trust in their doctor and their involvement in making decisions about treatment:

“Patients who preferred autonomous roles in treatment decision-making generally had low levels of trust, and patients who preferred passive roles generally had high – sometimes ‘blind’– levels of trust.”

This study shows that when a person trusts another, they believe that their best interest will be considered. If your clients trust in you, then they believe you will make decisions and suggestions that will benefit them. The same goes for business partners.

Mutual trust means that each party believes that they are looking out for the other’s best interest. If this is proven time and time again, both parties are sure to catapult to success.

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