What makes people trust us or not

7 ways to earn (and keep) other people's trust

Digital communication is easier than ever.

Facebook, Twitter, email and smartphones have radically changed the way we communicate. In the online business in particular, buzz words such as recommendation marketing and relationship marketing are buzzing through the digital space.

Little new and innovative can be found in these terms. The basis is still an interpersonal communication that creates it to leave a lasting impression and to gain lasting trust.

Digital communication has not only become easier and a lot faster in the social web, it is also more impersonal at the same time. Despite its social nature, the internet has somehow made us lonely.

Perhaps the problem, if there really is one, is not due to the medium, but to our own social skills.

We can work on it and create changes - much faster and more effectively than with technologies and information networks.


Dale Carnegie was already writing in 1936

"Dealing with other people is probably the most delicate problem that we have to solve".

As it turns out, he's still right about that today. Maybe even more than ever, because one aspect that essentially determines the community like no other has a particularly difficult time in the social web: trust.


What we are about to deal with:

The 3 basic rules for dealing with people

According to James Thurber, an American writer, there are three basic rules for dealing with people:

  1. Stop criticizing
    Criticizing in this day and age can be dangerous. Not only for the critic but above all for those affected. Criticism is reaching the public more and more often through digital media and can have dramatic consequences, including criminal penalties.

  2. Emphasize the positive
    Often the positive is confused with flattery. The difference, however, is that in order to be able to say something positive, we have to understand what is important to the other person. And it's important to show respect for others. Digital media offer us many new opportunities to convey positive messages every day and to strengthen relationships with friends, fans and followers.

  3. Address the wishes of others
    In order to know what your community wants, you need a certain amount of intuition. But it is always better to guide others than to force them to do something.

The art of communication is the language of leadership
- James Humes

In dialogue and in general when dealing with people, we have to keep one thing in mind: Every encounter (online or in person) is a chance to make a new friend and it is advisable to take this opportunity. And as I keep reminding myself:

For the first impression there is no second chance!


Only if you take this chance do you have the opportunity to establish a relationship and trust with people - also on the Internet. But before that happens, you have to be able to stand out from the “crowd of equals”. You have to be remembered.


Leave a lasting impression

There are several ways to make a good impression, but not all of them are easy to implement on the social web.

  • Take a serious interest in the concerns of others
    Ironically, it is relatively easy to make new friends if you are genuinely interested in others. Dale Carnegie describes in his bestseller How to Make Friends * several ways to achieve this goal. But our problem is selfishness - we try to interest others in us instead of simply showing interest in them.

  • Don't forget to smile!
    Smiling faces are attractive, they make us sympathetic. According to a study by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry 99.7% of the adult population are convinced that a (beautiful) smile is an important social factor. For example, what would the Mona Lisa be without her smile?

  • Address others by name
    Do you know the movie ghostwriter? The British Prime Minister (played by ex-Bond Pierce Brosnan) has his memoirs written by a ghostwriter and calls him "partner". As it turns out, just because he forgot his name. Show your counterpart respect by remembering their name and using it.

  • Listen to others
    A case of Dave Carroll, Singer & songwriter, whose guitar was mistreated by airport staff, shows what can happen if someone (in this case the airline) doesn't want to listen. He made a song out of the case and was heard, not only by the airline but also by numerous fans and, above all, numerous media.

  • Talk about topics that interest people around you
    In marketing we recognize the problem of the monologue. Information is offered (as interesting as possible) and marketers hope that a potential customer will contact them. However, communication here is only based on assumptions about the target group. She was often never asked about her actual interests.

    In order to be able to enter into a dialogue and to talk about things that interest our counterpart, we first have to listen, as we have already learned. Only then can we go into these things and build a long-term relationship.

  • Pay attention to the little things
    In our modern times and the intensive use of digital means of communication, we vie for the attention of readers every day. But how do we win it? We have to make them feel good by paying attention to little things. What have you been particularly happy about in the past? What problems do you have at the moment? What do you wish?

    In another of his books, Dale Carnegie writes a very apt conclusion about communication, be it online or offline, that you should never forget:

"What motivates you to make friends is rarely what motivates others to be friends with you."

7 ways to gain trust

Now that we have established some basic rules of human relationships and know how to make a lasting impression, it is time to move on to trust. I would like to describe seven ways here, as you gain the trust of other people how to give your communication a personal component and build lasting relationships.

  1. Avoid unnecessary arguments
    Have you read the article on dealing with negative criticism on the internet? Then maybe you know what I'm getting at. You will not gain trust (especially not on the social web) if you only try to convince others of your own opinion. You can achieve much more in a joint discussion in search of a consensus.

    It's not about attention, it's about mutual respect.

  2. Admit your mistakes quickly and openly
    Admitting mistakes is perhaps one of the hardest parts of building trust, but it works. Nothing is more honest than admitting your own mistakes, because an apology signals to the other person that we are sorry and that we want to fix things again. They forget their anger and see the positive in us (and the situation).

  3. Always be kind
    A friendly demeanor is especially important during first contact, because it conveys the message that you are genuinely interested in someone. In social networks we have to stick to etiquette and manners instead of forcing short-term benchmarks with provocative communication, because that is not the basis for a sustainable relationship. I can't quote Dale Carnegie enough:

"Friendship begins with kindness".

  1. Get close
    Modern media make it possible to compare the personal interests of different people via profiles in the network even before they "meet". This already creates a certain amount of closeness on which a relationship can be built. The more closely the interests of two people correlate, the higher the chance of a friendship, because People of the same kind stick together.

  2. Give sincere appreciation
    Honor where honor is due, the Romans already held it. Success is related to partnership and relationship, not attention and fame. That is why we also adhere to the social web to disseminate the content of others with a mention of the author. Not only do we benefit from this, as we use this information to help others, but we also recognize the work of those who provide us with information. Former US President Ronald Reagan also shared this view:

"A person can do and achieve an infinite amount if he doesn't care who gets the recognition in the end".

  1. Be empathetic
    Many people give out personal information on the internet in the hopes that someone will empathize with them. It is worth collecting information about our fellow human beings in order to understand them better, as we are influenced by many factors in our judgment (e.g. our upbringing, our values ​​or our economic status).

    Empathy is not a strategy, but an opportunity for better relationships.

  2. Share personal experiences
    We do it almost every day without even knowing it: live streams, videos, blog articles - they all often tell a story from the life of the authors. And what do we do with them? We comment on them, share them with our friends because we like the content and we give the authors the feeling that we are grateful to them for letting us participate in their lives. If our story is also that of others, then they will be more interested in the ending.


"Carnegie's rules for respectful, human coexistence are more up-to-date and relevant than ever. And his timeless advice is indispensable, especially when dealing with digital media."

The Art of Building Trust * by Dale Carnegie (from whose cover text the quote above is taken) has become one of my favorite books. Not only because the thoughts of the author made me think and I somehow feel "enlightened" after reading it, but also and especially because the author tells his own stories to illustrate these partly philosophical thoughts.


Speaking of thoughts ... one more thing occurred to me:

Relationships play an important role above all between people, but how important is trust in a business environment?


The role of trust in business

We know that trust is also important in business.

Community, in whatever form, cannot exist without trust.

Trust reduces our daily complexity and enables us to act more quickly. We don't have to ask ourselves the same questions all the time, we make decisions more easily because we have “ready-made and secured pathways”.

While such considerations are mostly unconscious, we quickly notice that we have relied on them up to now if the original trust suddenly disappears.

All of us who drive a VW or work for VW know how it feels. We can all learn a lot from mistakes like this - and not just as marketers. “Truths” suddenly burst like soap bubbles, leaving behind a feeling of disorientation and insecurity. These are feelings under which we as humans are only able to act to a limited extent.

Trust is a complex web of feelings, perceptions and assumptions. It is simply impossible to address it comprehensively in one post. This exciting topic actually fills entire library departments. ;-)

Nevertheless, I found a detailed and interesting article that will quench your interest a little: The Career Bible About Trust. You will find some of my contribution there too.

Finally, you will find an even more concrete, “tangible” connection between trust and marketing in my content polygon. There I explain the importance of so-called “trust building content” - that is, content that serves to build trust - in the marketing mix.


As you can see, everything that has to do with people and their relationships with one another is also directly related to building trust.

trust is not something that we can assume in (digital) relationships, but something that we first get tough work out and earn have to.


The tips from this article will hopefully help you, together with your common sense, to build and maintain trust - also in marketing.


Feel free to write me a comment now about what you personally took away from this and how you want to implement it!