How We Nurture Trust and Confidence: A Dog’s Story

By David French

My partner Robb and I recently adopted our fourth rescue Doberman, Eli. He’s two-and-a-half-years’ old, so we knew that among our daily responsibilities we’d be adding vigorous exercise to expend puppy energy, plus a training regimen. But we didn’t immediately pick up on anxiety issues that caused him to be hyper-protective and aggressive. A few days after we brought him home, he nailed Robb.
The agreement with the rescue organization was that, in the event of a bite, he had to be returned and quarantined for 10 days. And, as he was a rescue, he couldn’t be adopted by anyone else.
As we were struggling with whether to take him back, we received great counseling from a noted veterinary behaviorist. She gave us a specific training protocol to make Eli calmer and help him trust and defer to us as the alpha members of his pack, while allowing him to do the job for which his breed was created—vigilance and protection. Part of the training is acknowledging his alerts to perceived threats, but then stepping in: “You can relax and be confident that I’ve got this situation.”
What does this mean for clients?
I’ve drawn several parallels to this experience and our interaction with clients. Like the behaviorist, we aspire to be the experts to whom clients turn for counsel. But that doesn’t mean we demand attention or take control. Just as the behaviorist instructed us, our goal is to command trust and confidence. We may be award-winning creatives, Pulitzer Prize-worthy writers or supreme strategists, but if we lack the client’s trust and confidence in more than our output, none of those capabilities will ever contribute to a long-standing relationship and real, meaningful results.
Technical proficiencies are table stakes; every client expects and deserves the very best in execution and implementation. But technical proficiency alone engenders only confidence in the work product. It is RLF’s culture that the sort of deep trust and confidence I’m talking about comes from being truly invested in the client’s business, acting as if it were our own.
How do we do that? We foster partnership. We favor being forward-thinking and proactive, rather than maintaining the status quo or, worse, being reactive. And we’re there when they need us around the clock, on weekends and holidays. Clients benefit from having much more than a responsive, capable vendor; they have expert counsel invested in their success.
I’m happy to report that based on our trust and confidence in the expert—and in ourselves—we took Eli back. We’ve got a lot of work yet ahead, but his trust and confidence in us is growing. I believe if we maintain our commitment to create the same relationship with every client, we’ll be as we hope for Eli: vigilant, protective and effective for the long term.