Dear Dawn… Bewildered - The Answer
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Dear Dawn… Bewildered – The Answer

Dear Dawn… Bewildered – The Answer

Gulf Business’ leadership expert, Dawn Metcalfe, answers the sixth question in the series.


After another week of discussion and comments the Gulf Business agony aunt Dawn Metcalfe gives her expert opinion on the latest question in the series.

The query last week was:

Dear Dawn,

My boss has told me that I need to be a “trusted advisor” but isn’t very clear on how to become trusted. Help?!



And here is Dawn’s expert opinion:

Dear Bewildered,

Thanks for your mail and I’m sorry your boss hasn’t been very clear on what he wants you to do. My first piece of advice would be to have that conversation with him but, in the meantime, here are some tips on how to build trust. None of these are very complicated but they do take time and effort. Obviously there’s a lot more you can do and I’d be happy to help – contact me directly at [email protected]

1. Make firm promises and then keep them
Keeping your promises builds your reputation as trustworthy. Not doing so, even if is something small like promising to call before lunch, makes you appear disorganised or irresponsible and tells the other person you think them unimportant. When people see that you keep your word on small things, they are more likely to believe you can keep your word on big things.

2. When keeping your word is difficult, do it anyway
Stay up late, break a sweat, push yourself, persist, demand, do whatever it takes to find solutions. The cost of failing is much higher.

3. If you can’t keep your word, let the person know immediately
If you can’t hold up your end, don’t let it slide hoping the person won’t notice or mind. Get in touch with the person you made the commitment to, explain the situation and make another commitment. And keep it.

4. Make sure others keep their promises to you
Never take agreements you make with others lightly. Repeat back their promises while looking into their eyes. If someone breaks a promise, don’t let it slide. When you surround yourself with people who you can depend on, you can focus on more important issues.

5.Tell others something about yourself
Self-disclosure is sharing information with others that they would not normally know or discover. When you do this you are taking a risk and showing vulnerability, which lets the other person know you trust them. That makes it easier for them to trust you. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) tell people intimate secrets in a first meeting but you can share things that may not be obvious.

6. First impressions count
Up to 90 per cent of the first impression created when meeting someone new is a direct result of non-verbal interactions and general body language. These messages, both conscious and unconscious, convey a great deal of information about you. If you frown, appear stern, or act aloof, the first impression you create is bound to be quite negative. Instead, you should smile, shake hands, and make eye contact.

7. Tell the truth
Admit when you don’t know something. No one expects you to know everything and when you admit it you make it easier for people to believe you when you really do know what you are talking about.

8. Use the right language
Jargon is often used to make sure that outsiders are kept out. By using the right jargon for your industry with people you work with it easier for them to see you as “one of us” and to trust you.

9. Act the values you espouse
Nothing loses you trust faster than saying one thing and doing another. For example, if you tell people that confidentiality is important to you and then gossip and spread secrets you can be sure that they won’t trust you for very long.

Good luck,

The next professional query for week seven is now live and open for comment and debate. Follow the link here to participate.

Send your questions for Dawn anonymously to [email protected] and see them answered here next time.

Dawn Metcalfe is the managing director of Performance Development Services (PDS). Find out more at


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