According to Charles Green of Trusted Advisor Associates, the four variables to building trust are credibility, reliability, intimacy, and low self-orientation. Networking events are a great place to practice and strengthen trust-building skills. This article shares a method for practicing low self-orientation while networking.

Understanding the Variables

Self-orientation is your level of concern for yourself over others. In building trust, low self-orientation means that you have the other party’s best interest in mind; you are oriented toward the well-being of others.

One way to display low self-orientation in a conversation is to limit the amount of time you spend talking about yourself. You can strike a more even balance by asking the other participants questions about themselves, listening to their responses, and asking follow-up questions.

Especially when meeting new people, it’s tempting to talk about your credentials and accomplishments in an effort to increase your credibility (i.e., the sense that you are able to do what you say you can do) and, as a result, their trust in you.

However, you’ll actually decrease the person’s trust in you if you establish credibility in a way that demonstrations high self-orientation. At best, the other person will walk away thinking, “That person knows what they’re talking about but they don’t care about me.”

Finding the Balance

It’s difficult to strike the right balance between establishing credibility and demonstrating low self-orientation. One way to increase your ability to strike this balance and establish trust is by practicing low self-orientation at networking events.

At your next networking event, monitor yourself as you meet new people by asking the following questions.

  • What is your motivation for sharing information about yourself?
  • Are you sharing it in response to a question?
  • Is the information you’re sharing necessary to answer the question?
  • What is the balance between the number of questions you’re asking versus the number of questions you're answering?

If the other person has mastered the art of low self-orientation, you may have to interrupt the flow of conversation and ask them about themselves. That’s okay! You can even prompt your redirection with, “I’ve told you a lot about myself. I’d love to hear more about you.”

Building trust is challenging work. We all feel the urge to talk about ourselves and it’s impossible to strike the right balance all the time but we can improve with regular practice and reflection.

To learn more about the four variables of trust, read the short post “Understanding The Trust Equation” by Trusted Advisors Associates. The book The Trusted Advisor has even more great insights.

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