Sharing your personal story to earn trust

March 30, 2017

If I asked you to tell me your story right now, you’d probably have something to say. Right? But how often do you purposefully share your story to earn trust?

In search of trust/winning trust

We are all in search of trust. We want—need—the deep trust of our friends, spouses, colleagues, and customers. We earn trust when we do what we said we would do. We lose trust when we go back on our word and break promises.

And when that happens, relationships get tricky. Life gets hard. In fact, it’s hard to make money when you don’t have someone’s trust. It’s hard to communicate when you don’t have trust. (Thank you, Seth Godin, for teaching on trust and connection.)

So…how do you get trust?

Stories. I believe stories are the most effective and FASTEST way to build trust with people. For this article/post, I’m going to argue your personal story is a great place to start.

Stories are a fast and effective way to build trust.

What happens when you share your personal story

  1. You take a chance
  2. You make yourself vulnerable
  3. You confirm that you’re human
  4. You provide an opportunity to become a part of someone else’s story

The biggest personal story mistake

The biggest mistake people make when they tell their personal story is sharing TOO MUCH. They provide unnecessary details and say things that don’t matter. They think they’re telling a better story. You want to run away. But can’t.

I’m not saying that your grandmother or sister are not important—but when you share your “personal story,” it doesn’t need to include everything. Here’s why:

The best stories leave OUT details

Think about your favorite book or movie. I bet they left out details.

For a quick illustration, I’ll pick Breaking Bad, Season 5, Episode 7: “Say My Name.” In the teaser (the part before the logo), Walter White demands that his competitor recognize everything he has accomplished as a drug lord. It’s less about what is SAID and more about what’s NOT said. Declan ( the dude who whispers, “you’re Heisenberg”) knows and understands who Walt is…and even though he delays giving an answer—and we see plenty of information on the screen—it’s what’s in your head and heart that makes the scene so good. The scene is good because of the absence of dialogue and details.

If you talk to any author or master storyteller, you will find this: they leave OUT details. They let your brain fill in the gaps.

Likewise, if you talk to good musicians — they’ll tell you it’s the “space between the notes” that make the music GOOD. If you want your story to stick longer and make a bigger impact, it’s better to leave out the wrong details.

What are the wrong details?

Unnecessary dates, people, and backstories are often where people get tripped up. They believe that in order for you to understand the full picture, you must know everything about Grandma Helen’s life. But it’s not true. So here’s what you can do:

Know your punchline before you start

The punchline of your story is the part that relates to the person you’re sharing with. Keep your story focused on THEIR story.

Yes, your personal story should be custom-framed for the person you’re talking to.

Keep in mind that people ARE interested in you—but they’re also interested in themSELVES. They are looking for some overlap. Where does your story and life possibly intersect with theirs? That’s your punchline. When you use it effectively—they’ll fill in the gaps—THEN you have a connection. This is what builds trust.

I’m not a storyteller

I used to think that only the “privileged few” were positioned to tell their story. You know what I mean? The good storytellers—those people with self-confidence and a gifted voice?

It turns out, according to science, that personal stories are the “glue” that bonds people together. We are storytelling animals—always crafting stories in our heads about our life, love, future, and past. You don’t have to be a creative writer to share good stories.

Personal stories glue us together.

Here’s my personal story in a 122 second video. Take a look and let me know if we have ANYTHING in common. I bet we have something that overlaps.

What challenges do you have in sharing your personal story?

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