| Don't tell me to trust you, demonstrate why
Avoid saying Trust me, it erodes trust. Instead, use empathy and credibility
Trust, communication skills, empathy, credibility, emotional intelligence, EQ, training, coaching, courses, assertive, assertiveness, negative emotions, relationships, aggressive, confidence, self control
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Trust me, I’m a…

Trust me, I’m a…

Your fastest route to get people off side when you are trying to convince them on a particular viewpoint is to say the words, “trust me”.

If you are in sales, customer service, or a leader in a business, stop it right now. It is so counterproductive to your cause.

Why should I trust you?

Unless I know you well or know your area of expertise, I am less likely to take on face value what you have to say.

You may think that you are merely saving time, but unless you have always looked after my needs, telling me to trust you will only raise a spectre of concern. And this feeling of discomfort will be antagonistic to your objective.

This is further exacerbated if I am a leader and/or a person who needs detail or proof. Leaders usually have their own context and agenda and don’t like being told. And those who need to read the fine print or need proof, have a sense of risk mitigation, that will not be appeased by a trite remark.

It is a lazy way of putting forward information, probably learned from our parents who expected that their children would implicitly believe them. It patronises the other party by saying I know better than you do, and says don’t even think to question me because I know what I’m talking about.

In Emotional Judo®: Communication Skills to Handle Difficult Conversations and Boost Emotional Intelligence, I outline the five elements of trust, the A, B, C, D, E.

  • Authenticity
  • Behaviour
  • Consistency
  • Dependability
  • Ethics

Context will dictate which areas are important in a person’s judgement of trust at any given time. So, your Consistency and Dependability may allow you to get away with saying “trust me.” But, it is the Behaviour element I really want to dissect here. What makes up trustworthy behaviour?

  • Respect or at least no disrespect
  • Acting fairly
  • Concern for the other rather than for only self

                   – Approachable

                   – Benevolent

                   – Caring

                   – Considerate

                   – Empathetic

                   – Good listener 

                – Helpful/Supportive

  • Delivering on promises
  • Taking responsibility
  • Astute/Decisive
  • Competence/Credibility

If you do these things, I am more likely to trust you. BUT, you might say, all those things take time.

That is true. As a leader you must beware! You are being scrutinised by those you lead, all the time. It’s an old analogy, but the more deposits you put in the trust bank, the greater your ability to make a withdrawal when necessary.

But when speed counts, I don’t know you very well, or you know I am likely to have resistance, the quickest way to gain my trust is via empathy and a demonstration of credibility.  

Show your care and empathy to consider why I might have resistance to what you are saying. Validate that by empathising with me. Then demonstrate why I should listen to you without sounding like you are boasting. Build your credibility based on your track-record, experience, or knowledge to name just a few.

So instead of,

“Trust me, I’ve been there,”

“Trust me, you simply need to do…xyz,”

“Trust me, I know what I’m talking about,”

“You just have to trust me on this.”


“I appreciate that you are sceptical at the moment. I was too before I found out xyz.”

“I can sense that you are quite uneasy about this. Many people I have worked with have had those initial feelings, it was only once they did…”

“You mentioned xyz was important to you. Out of all the products I have tested this one is most likely to meet your needs because…”

“I respect that you have some doubts because of what you have experienced before. I know I have only been in this position for a short time; one of the reasons they gave me the role was because I achieved abc in my previous organisation. The way I did that was through xyz. So, I would like to look at how we can collaborate to get the same results.”

Patronise me with “trust me”, and I will feel you are disrespectful and self-serving. Empathise with me and show me why I should listen, and I will be more likely to consider your view or proposition.

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