Chris Voss spent 25 years negotiating with bank robbers, terrorists and kidnappers.

Hopefully, your audience is none of the above. 

But, trust is trust regardless of who is involved. 

Chris was the head of negotiation at the FBI. 

The key to building trust is four things:

  1. Empathy
  2. Honesty 
  3. Rapport
  4. Influence

His motto? Seek first to understand before you are understood. 


You need to have a deep understanding of your audience’s wants and needs. 

The default setting off humans in any interaction is: “What’s in it for me?”

If you’re not solving their pain points or soothing their souls then they are going to tune out. 

The best way to feel empathy is to solve your own problems. We’re all different yet the same.

We have different circumstances but the same pains. 

Create content to solve your pain and you will help others solve the same pains. They will be drawn to you. 

You do this with your creativity. Creativity is the ability to articulate and distill the pain in a way that resonates with your audience who were not able to communicate it. 

It’s creating an understanding that was previously unspoken. 

Tip  — seek first to understand before you are understood.

Reciprocity bias and rapport

Reciprocity is a cognitive bias that describes the impulse to return favours, pay back debts, and treat others as they have treated us. 

It is an essential evolutionary function of humanity as it breeds cooperation and understanding.

If you treat your audience with honesty, integrity, and empathy they will return the favour. 

The key is to serve your audience without the expectation of return. 

In a faux world, this is a big step how towards building deep trust. 

They will respond and this will build connections and rapport. 


Never, ever, tell a lie. Your trustworthiness will be gone. 

Always be honest about your emotions. By sharing your thoughts and feelings you will make your audience feel understood. 

We often think we’re the only one who is thinking or feeling certain things. This isn’t true.

By sharing your demons you will not only feel understood, but others will also feel the same. 

Tip —Stop trying to be perfect. People intuitively know that it’s not real. 

The Pratfall Effect

In 1966, Eliot Aronson a social psychologist research proved that to build trust and be more likable we need to be more honest and stop trying to hide our flaws. 

Aronson believed that we view our heroes as superhuman, but showing their flaws humanises them, making them more relatable.

Nobody is close to being perfect so stop trying so hard. 

Studies also show when companies have too many 5 star reviews people lose trust in the validity of the reviews. 

Experts call it “ The positivity problem.” 

The Zulu Philosophy of Ubuntu

I write about Ubuntu a lot. 

What is Ubuntu? It’s the Zulu philosophy that inspired Nelson Mandela to change the world. 

It was the spirit of Ubuntu that helped Mandela forgive the jailers who beat him year after year.

Mandela knew we are only human through the humanity of others. We are only pure from serving others. 

We are joined together through the spirit of unity and mutual experiences. 

Asked to define Ubuntu, Mandela posed a question “ What are you going to do in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?“

This is the same question that every artist, rebellious entrepreneur, and curious creator should ask themselves. 

What are you going to create that will inspire and improve your community? Your audience?

Your success is directly related to your communities success, and their success is related to yours. 

It’s symbiotic. 

The more success your community has the more they will tell their friends and the bigger your community will become. 

The bigger the community gets the bigger your business will be. 

But it all starts with improving your community. Get that right and the results will take care of themselves. 

Tip  — Improve your communities lives and your audience will reciprocate.

This will give you influence but not in a shady way. Trust is not to be abused otherwise it will disappear and will never return.

Destroying trust kills relationships. There’s usually no way back from that.

Interested in 1-2-1 Creative Business/ Personal Branding Strategy?

I help creators and solopreneurs become famous in their niches. I specialise in:

  • Creative business strategy
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  • Standing out in saturated markets
  • Overcoming creative blocks that are holding you back

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A bit about me

I’m an ex- multi-platinum artist manager. I created strategies and built audiences for artists who sold millions. I’ve challenged myself to write 50 articles in 50 working days. 35 down, 15 to go.

You can read more in the archives here. Find out more information on my website or connect on my LinkedIn