BUILDING TRUST: How To Do It and By Inference, How To Abuse It

by michael on January 26, 2015

BUILDING TRUST: How To Do It and By Inference, How To Abuse It

I found this article a few moments ago and I can‘t find where I got the link to it. I was intrigued because I lecture often to legal associations such as continuing legal education audiences on the ethics of rhetoric and the art of persuasion.

The article’s title is: An FBI Agent Reveals 5 Steps To Gaining Anyone’s Trust



The article’s author interviewed FBI agent Robin Dreeke. Dreeke is in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s elite Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program and the author of “It’s Not All About Me.”

Here are a few key points, done in a question and answer format:

A lot of people are interested in strengthening and furthering relationships. How can people do this?

Both anecdotal (evidence) as well as science supports the fact that the greatest happiness is found in positive social interactions and relationships. The simplest answer to this is to “make it all about them.” Our brain rewards us chemically when we are able to talk and share our own views, priorities, and goals with others… long term, short term, etc. Our brain also rewards us when we are unconditionally accepted for who we are as a human being without judgement.

Trust is a foundation to most situations in life. How can we develop trust? What are the keys?

Trust first starts with a relationship where the other person’s brain is rewarding them for the engagement with you by doing what I outlined above.

Part two of my trust process is to understand the other person’s goals and keeping their goals and priorities on the top of my list of goals and priorities. By making the other person’s goals and priorities yours, trust will develop

What’s the best way to approach someone you don’t know and ask them for a favor?

Using sympathy and seeking help is always the best. If you can wrap the help / favor you are looking for around a priority and interest of the individual you are engaging, the odds of success increase.

What are some strategies to build rapport while giving a talk, presentation, or interview?

Ego Suspension / self-deprecating humor… Make it all about them! How is the information you are chatting about going to benefit them? Talk about the great strengths and skills they each have already and that all you hope to do is to have them understand their strengths even better and be able to pass them on to others more effectively if they want to.

I suspect you spend a lot of time trying to figure out if people are manipulating you or the situation? Can you talk about this? How can you tell when people are attempting to manipulate you?

I’ll start by saying I don’t like the word manipulate. The word tends to objectify people and removes the human being from the equation. When people feel they are objects, trust will not be built. I tend to not think of anyone trying to manipulate me but at times a very self-serving agenda becomes evident. This is what manipulation generally is…. a self-serving agenda where the other person feels used with no reciprocity.

I confess I found Dreeke’s answer to be disappointing; indeed, more than disappointing. I found it to be intellectually vapid and morally confusing. It seems Dreeke has lapsed into silly if not morally delusional word-play. He says: “The word tends to objectify people and removes the human being from the equation.” I have no idea what he means. Why would someone try to advance a self-serving agenda if not with the intent of manipulating? The key to effective persuasion is the selectivity of information chosen to be included and chosen to be excluded. That selectivity is manipulation. Dreeke is too clever by half, as some say. He doesn’t like to use the word ‘manipulate,’ although often that is the express intent of the communication. He makes distinctions where no distinctions exist: the possibility of deceptively advancing an agenda as allegedly distinguished from manipulate. To me, this is pure drivel. But, alas, he is the expert. You decide.

If you had to give a crash course in building a relationship with someone, what are the top 5 things people need to do? What carries the bulk of the freight so-to-speak?

1) Learn… about their priorities, goals, and objectives.
2) Place… theirs ahead of yours
3) Allow them to talk…. suspend your own need to talk.
4) Seek their thoughts and opinions.
5) Ego suspension!!! Validate them unconditionally and non-judgmentally for who they are as a human being.

Read the entire article. But at its foundation, all Dreeke is saying has been said in Aristotle’s Rhetoric 2,500 years ago: pathos, logos and ethos. The key elements of persuasion of knowing your audience, crafting your message and establishing yourself as a credible messenger.

Of course, learning these skills, whether from Aristotle and or from Dreeke, gives you the tools to be a better… well, I’ll use the word: a better manipulator.

Thus, above all else, the moral character of the speaker is, in my humble opinion, the most vital factor. I am, admittedly, not joined in my belief by many people.

More later.

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