The Trusted Advisor 📚

The Trusted Advisor

The Trusted Advisor is a book focused on trust and relationships in professional services but feels applicable to any work partnership.

I’ve collected a few choice quotes below.

Show, don’t tell

To make anyone believe something about you, you must demonstrate, not assert. What you claim about yourself, your colleagues, or your firm will always be received skeptically, if it is listened to at all. In Emerson’s words, “Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying,”

Listen first

We must listen effectively, and be perceived to be listening effectively, before we can proceed with any advisory process. Cutting to the chase without having earned the right to do so will usually be interpreted as arrogance.

Interruptions and reordering

…if the listener breaks up our sense of story (insists on interrupting, or rearranging, or imposing his or her own sense of story line), the meaning we intend is disrupted. It feels inappropriate when someone jumps to a conclusion, or misses a connection, or gets things out of sequence. All these are forms of not “getting it.” Good listening respects the speaker by respecting the sequence of the story he or she chooses to tell us.

Listen for what’s different

At the core of earning someone’s trust is convincing them that you are dealing with them as a human being, and not as a member of a group or class or subset. Accordingly, as you listen to a client talk, the question on your mind should be, “What makes this person different from any other client I’ve served? What does that mean for what I should say and how I should behave?”

Unfortunately, this is hard work. The natural tendency for most of us is to do the exact opposite: We listen for the situations we recognize, so that we can draw upon past experience to use the words, approaches, and tools that we already know well. It’s the way most of us work, but it doesn’t always serve us well.

Sincere interest in others

So much of our time is spent focusing on ourselves, and so much of other people’s time is spent focusing on themselves, that it is a rare and surprising event whenever someone breaks the veil. Sincere interest in another person comes across strikingly simply because it is unusual.

Be sure advice is being sought

One of the biggest mistakes that advisors make is to think that their client always wants their advice. This is dangerously wrong.

What the advice receiver wanted was a combination of a sympathetic ear, emotional support, an understanding of the difficulties faced, and the opportunity to collect his or her own thoughts by talking them through in a non-threatening environment.

Long-term vs short-term

It’s near impossible for any professional to hide his or her true motives, whatever they may be. And if those motives are rooted in naked self-interest, they will be duly noted and reciprocated. We are not loyal to self interested people we don’t trust them. Which means we are always likely to leave them for a better price-or for someone we actually trust.

Which in turn means longterm success is compromised by such behaviour. And since the long term is nothing but a series of short terms, short-term results themselves are being harmed, not improved, by slavish adherence to short-term goals.

The truth is, both long-term and short-term results are maximised by long-term behaviour on our part. The old Goldman Sachs mantra expressed this well: “We are longterm selfish.” It is in the long-term that our goals and our clients’ goals merge and that merging reveals itself over a series of short terms.

Steps to develop trust

We suggest that there are five distinct steps in the development of a trusted relationship. In this chapter we will define each of these In the succeeding chapters, we will explore each stage in detail.

Expressed in their simplest form, the five stages are:

  • Engage. “Let’s talk about…”
  • Listen. “Tell me more…”
  • Frame. “So the issue is…”
  • Envision. “Let’s imagine…”
  • Commit. “I suggest we…”