working towards great client service

The enemies of trust are ‘us’

Posted by Hong Huynh Mai Nhi, s3372850

Trust is a keystone for relationships including business partners’ one. Trust sometimes decides the success in business. Without a trusted relationship, you and your partner hardly obtain a tight collaboration and that leads to no mutual benefit for any sides. As the importance of trust in business, in many industries, trust is the first step to build between companies. However, trust is not easy to build. There are many enemies of trust and one of them is misunderstanding between partners (Galford & Drapeau 2003). Usually, culture is one of major reasons which cause misunderstanding (Tannen 1985). We are living in a diversified world with many different cultures which prevents us from fully and personally penetrating your partners’ mind. As a result, cultural differences are believed as one of significant enemy of trust which hinders us from building a long and trusted relationship. Hence, the influence of culture in building trust with different culture business partners should be an important topic for us to concern and study in order to prepare for our future career. Thus, I decide to choose this topic for interviewing Mr. Nick Shiells, a managing director of Strategic Compliance. With 8 – year experience of working with clients who come from many different cultures, he helps me to realize that culture is not the true enemy of trust but us due to 3 reasons:

1. We judge before we understand

Often, people usually give prejudice based on their own thoughts and assumptions about other people which are also called stereotypes (Devine 1989).

Are stereotypes good or bad? – I ask.

Usually, people in a same nation or area have something in common” – Nick states.

Nick believes that stereotypes help him to know certain behaviors people behave as well as instruct him certain ways to treat people. However, those behaviors do not manifest the real person the clients are. Thus, if you depend too much on assumptions or stereotypes to judge your clients that may cause misjudgments, trust could not be built between you and them.

“Stereotypes may kill the relationship if using wrong”, Nick says

Are there tips to use stereotypes effectively? – I ask.

Try to make a quick assessment to your clients’ personality in the conversation to identify whether they behave similarly to the stereotypes or not and then conform yourself to their ways” – Nick recommends.

2. We prefer thinking than feeling

People usually try to think theoretically and logically about a person but they forget to feel” – Nick claims.

To Nick, clients are simply human as we are. They feel what we feel and they need what we need. They also have emotion so we should not treat them like robots or machinery.

Don’t think their wants. Feel their wants” – Nick advises.

How can we believe in your feeling because ‘Feelings’ usually are not precise or accurate? In addition, can we learn how to feel? – I ask.

You cannot learn how to feel in any schools or books. ‘Feel’ could be an intuition or could be a life-skill which you gain from experience” – Nick states.

In other words, the more people we deal with, the more accurate we feel.

3. We keep more than we share

According to Brett (2007), some cultures in business negotiation, are afraid to revealing much information for other people because they believe that the more you show, the more vulnerable you are to other people. Similarly, we sometimes refuse to share private information like our family, our personality and our life for other people. That may not be relevant to business but it may  help you to build trust.

I used to work with the Chinese people who usually refuse to share their culture and to show their true feeling,” – Nick shares – “I don’t wait for them to share. I share first.

Sometimes, you have to be open talking about you. If you cannot understand people, let them understand you first. When they see the sincere of you, they will share something in return

In conclusion, there is no truth enemy of trust beside us due to our 3 habits: (1) we judge before we understand, (2) we prefer thinking than feeling and (3) we keep more than we share. However, thanks to Nick, I know how to overcome those bad habits by making a quick assessment to your clients’ personality, feeling your clients and sharing openly with them. In brief, in my future career, there may be many difficulties but after the interview with Nick, I feel more confident to cope with those problems including building trust with different culture people.

725 words


Brett, JM 2007, Negotiating Globally: How to Negotiate Deals across Cultural Boundaries, Chapter 2, pp. 25-52.

Devine, PG 1989, ‘Stereotypes and Prejudice: Their Automatic and Controlled Components’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Feb, Vol. 56, No. 1, pp. 5-18.

Galford, R & Drapeau, AS 2003, ‘The Enemies of Trust’, Harvard Business Review,US, Vol. 81 Issue 2, p88-95

Tannen, D 1985, ‘Cross-Cultural Communication’, Handbook of Discourse Analysis, Vol. 4, pp.203-216.Image

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2 thoughts on “The enemies of trust are ‘us’

  1. LAMY on said:

    RIP Nick, A lot of people will regret you in your country and here in Vietnam.

  2. rupacoach on said:

    Reblogged this on Resilience Life Coach.

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