How to Earn Trust from Those You Want to Influence

I remember holding hands with a sweaty African boy in Kenya in the summer of 1996. I had already learned during my stay that it was common for males to hold hands. This was a sign of friendship and alliance. So, when Norman reached out to hold my hand, I had to push down every cultural resistance bursting inside of me. Norman was highly respected among the other boys in the High School where I was trying to minister. We had been playing basketball, and as Norman and I waited on the sidelines to sub back in, we held hands. I hoped to get back in the game soon . . .

Let’s continue to take a look at the seventeen strategies for developing "better relationships faster" from the Business Insider article,  “How to Make People Like You Immediately.” You can read my first two posts here: Develop Better Relationships Faster and How to Be the Kind of Person Everyone Wants to Be Around.

We will continue to evaluate these strategies based on biblical principles, and see if we can learn more about influencing others for Christ. Here are the fifth and sixth pieces of advice from the article.

“5. Make friends with their friends.”

Here is the main idea: “Two people are likely to be closer when they have a common friend.” This is the power of a reference. If someone I trust trusts someone else, I am inclined to trust them as well. In his book, Making Friends for Christ, Wayne McDill  calls this “the web of relationships.” As we seek to influence others Christ, it helps for us to be aware of this natural dynamic. The people we already know, and their friends, are our mission field.

McDill writes, “Each of us lives in a ‘world’ unique to himself. No one else, not even your closest relative, knows the same combination of people. This special set of acquaintances is your world, your own everyday mission field. No one can influence this group of people as you can.”

So, I would suggest reversing the strategy from the article. Instead of trying to get to know the friends of a person we are trying to influence, it is more natural to make new connections with the friends of people who already trust us. These are paths of trust. New friends we make through our trusted friends provide us a beginning level of trust.

“6. Don’t be complimentary all the time.”

Here is the main idea: “Your positive comments will make more of an impact if you deliver them only occasionally.” A study is cited in the article which concludes that people like it better when others noted their negative qualities as well as their positive qualities.

This makes sense because we know that no one is perfect. If someone only states positive things about us, we conclude that they are not being totally honest or genuine. In my experience, the number one quality people want in a friend is honesty.

I remember talking with a few people at a wedding after I had enjoyed some cake. After several conversations, a good friend of mine approached and almost immediately informed me that I had icing on my face. All those people from the previous conversations just left me with cake on my face! It is not difficult to figure out who I counted as a true friend.

The Bible expresses this principle in Proverbs 27:5-6:

 "Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
 Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
 profuse are the kisses of an enemy."

If you want to earn someone’s trust, be honest with them. Real friends don’t flatter. Give them realistic feedback that helps them grow. They will count you as a trustworthy friend.