“Are you really listening or are you just waiting for your turn to talk?” ~ Robert Montgomery
Do you remember a time when trust was where a relationship started? I have trouble remembering those times. I’m sure there was a time when trust was the norm, in the same way that our legal system once started with “innocent until proven guilty.” Now, we are a society of skeptics and cynics, but can you blame us? We feel cheated and lied to by companies, by our government, by our employers or former employers. The recession exposed a very sad and dangerous truth – we participated in an economy and a way of doing business that really was too good to be true. Double-digit positive returns are tough to sustain. We knew that, but we went along for the ride. In Margaret Heffernan’s words, we willed ourselves into blindness. We feel let don and disappointed and we have no one to blame but ourselves, which is too much to bear so we blame everyone else.
Enter Michael Masloansky, Scott West, Gary DeMoss, and David Saylor with the book The Language of Trust: Selling Ideas in a World of Skeptics. In all of our economics mayhem, we forgot how to talk to people in an authentic way. We forgot how to put others first. We’ve been so busy making excuses that we forgot to take responsibility. This book is meant to help us get back on track in the post-trust era (PTE).
It’s got some tough advice for us that is not going to be easy to hear, though not as hard to act upon as we might think. It gives us language guidelines under the very simple yet priceless principle that people believe what they understand. In other words, “Don’t be a wonk.” Drop the jargon and communicate in real language, not language that you think gives you some kind of desired image. And no one is interested in why you did something that was not in their best interest so drop that game altogether; it’s a battle that’s lost before it’s even started. Take responsibility and do better going forward.
The book lays out real world examples of communication gone right (Jetblue and Conservation International) and communications gone wrong (Toyota). It breaks down what worked so beautifully in the successful examples and how the unsuccessful examples can be improved. These examples give marketers (and that includes all of us who work on our own personal brand as well) a way to compare our current communication tactics against these examples, essentially creating a map for us to communicate more authentically with our audience.
This book should be well-worn after continuous consultation by marketers of all stripes. We’re living in a new age where trust must be earned at every moment. It’s a world of missteps from well-intentioned actions. In some ways, we may feel like we can’t win in this world of skeptics. Don’t throw in the towel. You can win – it’s just going to take a whole lot more work that it did prior to the PTE. The Language of Trust can help. Available in bookstores starting today.