I spent most of my professional career trying to recruit foreign spies to work for the FBI. Foreign Intelligence Officers are trained to believe that FBI agents are not to be trusted because they are manipulative and greedy.
This stereotype can be a hard nut to crack. FBI Agents have to be masters in selling themselves and their product. The only way to do this is by building trust with the other individual.
And you know what? If I tried to fake it, it didn’t work.
Strengthening relationships is not just a priority for counterintelligence FBI agents who want to establish trust with the Targets of their investigations. You may need to develop trust with team members, competitors, and new clients—it is the most important factor in building relationships.
From my own background and experience, here are some key things you need to do in order to develop trust:
1. Work Hard To Understand The Goals And Priorities Of Others
I developed a genuine appreciation for the Target of my investigation. If I couldn’t, I walked away from the case—the Target deserved better from me.
Your greatest need may be to build stronger connections with competitors, or those who would rather see you fail than succeed. No matter your current relationship, let them know that their goals and priorities are important to you.
Mental toughness is controlling your emotions rather than letting your emotions control you—do not let anger, resentment, or jealousy interfere with your own goals and priorities—to win their trust!
Keep your friends close; keep your enemies even closer.
2. Never Lie About The Things That Matter
I approached my meetings with the Target as a collaboration of honest conversations. I never lied to the Target. I met him in true name and laid out the proposal in plain language. No tricks and no bait-and-switch.
When you look at someone as an object, or as good or bad to your career, trust cannot be built. Instead, try to be non-judgmental and understand:
- Their objectives and goals
- Why it is their objective or goal
- What they are truly after
- Where you can find common ground
3. Never Succumb To The Temptation of Manipulation
I always believed my relationship with the Target would be long-term and beneficial to both of us.
Whenever a self-serving agenda becomes apparent, we know we’re being manipulated. When this happens, make an effort to understand why they feel the need to manipulate you rather than communicating with you in a more direct manner.
Maybe they don’t trust you?
Look for ways that you can help them think about other, more successful ways they can be successful in what they want to achieve. And then help them achieve their goal.
4. One Favor Deserves Another
I resisted the temptation to feel angry or put-upon when the Target started testing our relationship by asking for favors—especially ones that would help make him look good in some way.
The law of reciprocity says that when we do someone a favor, the other person will feel an obligation to reciprocate that favor at some point in the future. Over time, the need to reciprocate the interest, kindness, and effort that you’ve made on their behalf will pay off.
Trust is built faster and stronger when your agenda is not the first priority.
5. Get Rid Of The Ego
I treated the Target as an equal, and not as a second-class citizen even when I knew he was trying to steal classified U.S military documents.
It’s tempting to take the moral high ground, but I always made an effort to understand why they made the choices they had in life. As I listened to their answers, I answered non-judgmentally and followed up with questions that were not freighted with judgment.
It means suspending the ego and the certainty of your rightness in the matter. If you make the conversations all about them, you are continually validating them as human beings.
William Shakespeare wrote this famous line—“Love all, trust few.” He had it right—trust only in the few who take a genuine interest in understanding your needs and wants. Trust is not an act.
Once people trusted me, they trusted my message.
Whose message do you trust?
LaRae Quy is a former FBI counterintelligence and undercover agent and founder of the Mental Toughness Center. She writes, speaks, and develops corporate training programs to form mentally tough leaders who create breakthroughs in business and life. LaRae is also the author of two books, Mental Toughness For Women Leaders and Secrets Of A Strong Mind.
Take LaRae’s FREE 45-question mental toughness assessment at www.LaRaeQuy.com