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Truly listening when others speak is the key to trust

“Trust, not money, is the currency of business and life.” The Trust Edge, David Horsager

This past week I had the opportunity to engage in a video blog with Olderhood senior adviser Amoti Nyabongo on the topic of trust.

As we were chatting, it suddenly struck me how often the underlying reason that trust breaks down between individuals is not so much that one party is actually behaving in a disreputable manner as it is a failure of communication.

So what do I mean by this?

Think for a moment. How often have you found yourself at odds with someone and, when you pressed them to tell you what it was you had supposedly done, you found yourself stammering, “But that’s not what I meant”?

Clear communication takes more than an accurate use of language, it also requires good listening skills. A point that many people overlook.

Although we should be focusing on what a person is actually saying when they are speaking, all too often we are so busy extrapolating and interpreting for ourselves what it is we think they mean and what it is we think they have said, that we don’t actually hear them at all.

And when we don’t like what we think we have heard, what do we do?

We take offence, further obscuring the flow of incoming information. And this is when things start to get really twisted.

Just like the adage when you point a finger at someone else, there are three pointing back at you, the irony here is that when you are guilty of listening to yourself more than the person who is speaking to you, you are actually the one who is to blame for any misunderstanding and resultant discord that occurs.

That’s pretty shocking when you think about it.

But do we take any responsibility for this?

Not a chance.

In an effort to protect ourselves what we tend to do is get indignant and accuse the other person of being unclear in order to cover up the fact that we are the one who has made a mistake.

And, in doing so, we typically make the situation worse.

In fact, not only are we belittling the other person (who may well have spoken quite clearly) and further damaging the relationship, we are actually cheating ourselves out of the opportunity to realise that we are the one who needs to improve – that’s a pretty big price to pay for saving face if you ask me.

So what has all of this got to do with trust?

Well, think about it. How can you expect anyone to trust you if you can’t even be trusted to give someone your full attention when they are speaking and listening to what they have to say without judgment?

Better yet, how will you ever know who you can trust if you aren’t really listening to them in the first place?

You can catch the rest of my conversation with Amoti at

Robin Trimingham is the chief operating officer of The Olderhood Group Ltd and a virtual presenter, journalist, podcaster and thought leader in the fields of life transition and change management. Connect with Robin at or

It’s important to listen to what the other person says, not what you think you hear

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Published April 27, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated April 23, 2021 at 10:23 am)

Truly listening when others speak is the key to trust

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