Kevin Hogan

International Speaker

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Rebuilding Trust Quickly by Kevin Hogan

The Core of Rebuilding Trust

Trust is a rule. (Probably a set of rules by which two people agree to do or not do certain things for the betterment of the connection/relationship/business.

One rule to rebuild trust is The Square One Rule.

“Beginning now, we can say what we’re feeling, avoid blaming and accept responsibility for a set of actions.”

That basic premise allows you to quickly get to the core of a break.

You said you would do something and then you didn’t do it.

I wrote an overwhelmingly large piece of fiction recently. The chief antagonist in the book is the owner of a massive pharmaceutical who monitors their employees conversations and actions at home and at the office. Even employee phones are tracked and bugged. There are no secrets that can be held from the company.

The paranoid President runs the company with the proposal that, “if you aren’t doing anything wrong, there is nothing to hide.”

If it sounds like communism blended with fascism you’re right.

The company would have a difficult time overcoming a history of creating mentally and emotionally ill employees even though the company psychologist is “there to help.”

In truth he is there to brainwash the employees further into being monitored by the gestapo like “security team.”

It all works for the company until it ultimately comes to the same end that always happens with communism. It breaks down, crushes the people and leaves them unable to cope with what they have been through.

The same thing happens in real life.

A friend called me and asked if her husband could put a tracker on her phone to assure her fidelity.

Communism at home. Beautiful. It only has one end.

“If your husband believes you will be faithful because he know where you are at any second of the day, you’re living with both fascism and communism operating at the same time. You tell him no. Not now not ever.”

She asked me what fascism is.

“The fascist dictator controls the conduct of people, society. The communist dictator does the same while giving the illusion that everyone should be equal owners in a communist society. The common thread is that one person is in charge without checks and balances.”

Then I asked her if that sounds familiar.

“It’s my relationship.”

“Then you’ve answered your own question. You never yield your independence as a human to another human. It’s ridiculously simple.”

In a relationship you win when you don’t read the kids diary. You win when the woman tells you she’s going to the neighbors even when you suspect she was actually having an affair.

Why do you win?

Because you have given them trust. If they make their way to some guys house, instead of visiting the neighbors, that’s simply their choice.

Freedom doesn’t come without cost and that means to have a connection, a relationship that will last and be meaningful requires something that will be broken more and need to be rebuilt, and likely on far more than in one instance over time.

That is trust and trust really only works long term with credibility.

Rebuilding trust requires a plan where  people communicate their feelings, eliminate blame, discuss each days events without interrogation.

If trust is lost in a business relationship of some kind, the situation is very similar.

The first rule of rebuilding trust is never to tell another person more than he can believe.

An example from

Over the course of business people have sent us testimonials and endorsements that were SO GENEROUS, that when I read them, I’d think, “people may not believe THAT so ask them if you can soften their glowing words.”

Your product, service, or idea may be the best there is and solve all the problems in the world… but if the one who perceives doesn’t think it can do all this and more, he won’t want anything to do with it or you. You will be perceived as exaggerating and this will result in a LOSE/LOSE situation.

You must be ready to point out the negative aspects of your self and your service. Even Apple has negative points that have lost trust points in it’s history but through excellent trust rebuilding, they can win back their followers. And by the way, today in 2023, the net worth of Apple is greater than the entire Russell 2000 Index businesses….combined.

If you can point out a negative aspect about your product, service, or idea, you’ll disarm the other person from trying to find other negative points, leaving him to focus on the good. You gain great credibility when you report your point of view, services, love, whatever it may be by objective looking at your own products, services, ideas, and opinions.

The second thing you can do to be credible is to be precise, Instead of saying that you lost twenty pounds, say the truth. You lost seventeen pounds! That is 100 percent believable.

A famous example of precision is Ivory soap advertising itself as 99.44% pure. Now, I doubt that if you chemically broke it down you would come up with 99.44% pure. It’s probably more. But that number sounds exactly right, doesn’t it? Or Lysol kills 99% of germs – it’s just the same. You would never question it.

When I go somewhere I tell the people who need to know, exactly where I’m going and what time I’ll be back. Keeps everything simple.

Precision reveals the characteristic of someone who does their homework. Used as a bogus tactic, it just doesn’t work.

Use Written Testimonials in business. Another key step in gaining credibility is to have written documentation by objective parties. You can say something to make a sale and it may be suspect. For someone else with nothing to gain from the transaction to say something incredible about you or your product is a big credibility builder.

In a relationship you don’t really need that written testimonial. In this case it is spoken, by you, and when you are done stating something, that typically needs to be the conclusion of that conversation.

Finally, in most transactions the person who initiated the transaction probably has something to gain. It would be very wise to diminish that fact:

“Whether you buy my product or not is OK with me. It’s either going to make a big difference for you, or it isn’t. If it’s not, you shouldn’t buy it. It’s completely up to you.”

After you’ve said that, all defenses come down and you will generally be perceived as a professional, competent, and credible salesperson.

If you are not in sales, credibility is still just as important a part of who you are. Are you a person of your word? Are you 100 percent reliable, 100 percent consistent, 100 percent of the time? Do you always come through? Do you walk your talk? Are you always seeking WIN/WIN situations? if so, you will be perceived as credible in your business and personal relationships.

Build your credibility and never give it away once you have it….

It’s a tall order. Here’s what you want to know:

How can you cause Instant Credibility?

How do you build Lasting Trust?

And even IF you can accomplish those two tall orders… there is still one mystery to solve…

Why is it that people don’t trust trustworthy people, but they do trust shady characters?

Here’s a cool clip of a transcript from an interview that will air next month worldwide….more details next week…. (Headers were not part of the interview but inserted here for your convenience.)

I was asked a few key questions about trust, credibility and distrust in a podcast.

Q. …Kevin, talk specifically about what our listeners need to do. What is the biggest factor in moving from distrust or maybe the potential lack of trust to the trust side of the continuum?

A. The challenge and outcome is to allow trust and credibility to be non-issues, to become “given’s”…

You and I live in two worlds today. Online and offline. At, a couple of the things we do are simple yet very effective. Each week people mail us “thank you’s” and unsolicited testimonials and similar endorsements. We don’t make use of most but we do use quite a number of them.

A long time ago I decided to go ahead and put them on the front page. It made for a very long front page at the website but it accomplishes the goal. Then when it became unruly I was encouraged to make a page for testimonials. If people read, they will see they are dealing with someone who cares and does good work.

Write Relevant Articles

There are literally hundreds of articles written by me on the website… with links on the front page in the various categories of which I might be known to have some expertise. That much unique information, information that is not redundant with other material on the internet creates an encyclopedic resource for the browser.

You can do the same. Maybe you don’t need thousands of pages of stuff, but you could certainly publish 10 or 20 pieces about your area of expertise so when it comes time for someone to hire you or want to do business with you, it is obvious that YOU are a proven quantity.

Can you imagine going in for a job interview and there you are competing against 5 other candidates. What’s the difference between the five? You have a blog that has 10 cool industry related articles that clearly shows that you have done your homework.

That’s not only a point of differentiation it’s proof that you know your stuff.

Publish Your Image.

Let people see what you look like. There you are helping out at school, receiving an award, meeting someone fascinating, work on a team. With rare exception, eave the photos of you from the party for your personal scrap book.

It can be very helpful to access the halo effect of others, whether Boot Camp attendees, other speakers, celebrities from all walks of life, along with magazines I’ve been in and books that have been translated into languages all over the world.

And the halo effect is only a tiny piece of a Trust-Pie. Everything works in tandem with everything else.

And this is the first outcome I have. People come to the website and they don’t wonder if they can trust what is here. They simply do because there are no non-credible elements.

For the listener, I want you to use these elements in your own business both online and off.

By the way, don’t put all of your testimonials or endorsements on your front page. Save plenty for other pages you want people to see!

All that for another day….

The biggest action for entrepreneurs, professionals, salespeople, and marketers is to get evidence stacked up on your website and put it out there. Make it easy to believe in you. Make you the obvious choice. Make it a no-brainer for them. If you wanted your future girlfriend to check you out and collect info about you, this is what you’d want her to see.

The best thing you can do online or offline is to use all Six Factors of Credibility.

Q. What is the difference between perceived and real credibility?

A.  Perceived and real credibility are very different things. People treat them the same, and it can dramatically harms a lot of things in their lives.

When someone or some business is not credible or perceived as credible, they will end up broke and without reputation.

So let’s create a common ground for truly understanding credibility and look at what the six factors you mentioned are that have been shown that when combined you end up with credibility.

The Six Factors of Credibility

  1. Competence – True competence and the perception of competence are two different things.
  2. Trustworthiness
  3. Expertise
  4. Likeability – Not being a jerk, nonthreatening on whole, fun or funny, friendly.
  5. Composure (poised)
  6. Sociability (extroversion)

Build Trust. istockphoto/SirgunhikIt’s important to understand that each of the six factors of credibility have their factors of what generates them as well. Make sense?

For example, with the factor of competence, McCroskey and Young have found that there are…

7 Scales of Competence:

a) being experienced,
b) informed,
c) trained,
d) qualified,
e) skilled,
f) intelligent and
g) an expert

So credibility stands on six pillars and each of those pillars stands on other smaller but equally as important pillars.

Credibility in any context is not a quick fix kind of a thing….

…you want to have long-term credibility and that means creating a brand, even if it is brand you. Brand You is a phrase I coined at Influence: Boot Camp at 18 years ago, to highlight the fact that you, yourself, are a walking brand as much as Apple or Toyota are brands.

The fact that people can trust and be seen as an expert, not by bogus positioning, but by adding tangible value to your field gives you a great advantage in life.

So don’t just write a book, for example. Write a book that is GOOD and actually gives the reader something of value.

People Identify with Faces

Both online and offline, people identify with faces.

So get video of you on your website, let people see you and observe you communicate. You don’t need to be elegant, just be you. Be real, authentic.

The process of uploading video to a website is perhaps going to take a few minutes including creating the 5 minute “hello” and insight. So, do that. People identify with a familiar face. Make yours familiar.

Borrow Credibility

Another rapid credibility builder is to borrow another person’s credibility who trusts you.

In some contexts this can be a mutual friend.

Endorsements, celebrity endorsements, testimonials, research studies about your product/brand/you, etc. All of these are proven to be effective in building credibility for another person or business.

For the long term, do business with people in such a way that your future customers tell you the same story about you: “I heard great things about you, had to give you a try.”

Credibility and Influence

Let’s bring this up to the context and purpose of the interview. It’s about growing a business, creating a successful life, venture or even a relationship. And to succeed in these areas you must be able to influence.

There are four elements of the persuasive setting…

  • the context
  • the persuader
  • the message
  • the audience/recipient

The first three dimensions require high credibility for success.

Kevin, are salespeople, entrepreneurs, small businesses and the like perceived as credible by the public? How do they work on that?

Consultant. istockphoto/AIMSTOCKMost entrepreneurs aren’t initially perceived as credible. They don’t have the recognizable brand name like Starbucks, iPad, Coca Cola, Nike. They are Joe and Bill and John and Chris. Therefore you have your work cut out for you and people rarely take this part of business seriously, and that is a contributing factor as to why they will never come close to being successful.

You must build expertise. You must build absolutely legitimate expertise and you must provide evidence for your trustworthiness. Always assume there is a high bar in a person’s mind for your credibility. There SHOULD be and that fact needs to NOT be a hurdle for you. Use it to your advantage.

Be Dependable. There absolutely are some contexts where trust is more about dependability and predictability than any other aspect. Think about that. There is marketing research that tells us that SHOWING UP and being on time can often be up to 3 x more valuable than being seen as honest.

That’s a pretty huge lesson: Never be late.

Credible People Have Detractors

As soon as you are known by a group of people you will find people who dislike you.

There are no unbiased sources about your credibility or appearance of your integrity. If you are being effective and earning money, you will have detractors that will typically be noisier than those who are your fans. In fact, your fans will generally love you and spread the word about you. But your enemies have a much easier time of spreading bad press about you. Bad news travels faster than good news. Bad news is more gossip-worthy. Bad press is very tough to repair.

That means you want to have a HUGE POSITIVE IMPRESSION built before your public or the people who look to you for whatever it is you do.

As soon as you achieve ANYTHING, your mere presence can trigger some people to feel uncomfortable and not like you! You’re achieving, they aren’t…

So you are going to get criticism.

Invite Criticism. Allow people to criticize you even in the most brutal ways and know that to elicit that you either are as big of a jerk as they say; or you are simply so good at what you do that they feel intimidated to the core simply by being.

We all have an innate dread of rejection. That is normal. However, do learn to master criticism by using the most evil and vile critic’s critique of you or your work and see if there is SOMETHING to what they say.

When I began applying this principle to books I’ve written, and have control over, I have gone and re-written sections in those books. Often this revision project has been profitable and created a better public perception through better reviews.

You should be teachable and be seen as teachable.

Don’t cave to pressure.

Have integrity.

Do be open to the fact that a jerk…could be right….even while he’s being a jerk.

Kevin, how can our listeners be more effective at all the contact points with their market?

Integrity. istockphoto/IvelinRadkovYou meet your customer at various contact points. Each is a chance to prove yourself guilty of being seen as not real, non- credible, inauthentic, not trustworthy.

What’s cool is that your BEST customers are often those who were the most skeptical and distrusting of you; and THEN you won them over.

How do you make each contact point with your customers and market more effective?

Customer Service – People appreciate speed. We try and get to people who need help with something as close to “instantly” as instantly can happen. We get more comments on speed of service than anything except content. We were talking about dependability and predictability as being key factors in trust. If people know you are going to be there for them, they feel comfortable doing business with you. Want to really be effective? Think, what does my customer want in customer service? They want whatever screwed up, fixed now. How simple is that? They paid yesterday. It broke today, so fix it because you’ve already been paid.

Advertising – Credible advertising is almost a contradiction in terms, and has been for two centuries. So be credible and standout. Be effective by causing your advertising, which is rarely profitable to BE profitable. Most people think of advertising as buying space with an ad. Here’s a telegraph just in from Cheyenne: Advertising doesn’t work unless you are profoundly and dramatically well branded. Half the advertising dollars don’t work so there is NOT anything to figure out as far as “which half.”

Hold off on unnecessary advertising until you are branded well enough to make it pay.

If you must, make your ad standout and offer a QUICK, almost instant and un-put-down-able offer.

Marketing – This is what does work. And marketing and sales need to be integrated. Sadly, a lot of companies treat them with complete division. That’s a mistake. It costs sales because the messages are different, especially in branded companies or people. You either need great marketing or great sales to succeed in business. If you can do both you have a forever winner. Select carefully who you do business with. Everyone you do business with, their halo, their reputation will rub off on you. Make sure that is a good thing.

Product description – Be precise. Ivory soap is 99 44/100% pure … Be accurate and be precise. 10% weight loss is not as good as a “median of 9.3%.” Be unquestionably accurate in claims. Tell the truth.

If you would like a regimen to put you on the path to growing trust, believability and credibility then do something that will affect both perception and reality.

So answer seven questions for the two categories of perception and reality and be hard on yourself. The categories are, “Are you perceived as x?” and “Are you x?”

Make sense?

Here they are: (Adapted for text from interview.)

1) experienced/unexperienced (Are you experienced in this field? Are you perceived as experienced?)

2) informed/uninformed

3) trained/untrained

4) qualified/unqualified

5) skilled/unskilled

6) intelligent/unintelligent

7) expert/not an expert

Now DO this, don’t just listen and then not make this actually happen. After completing each question, create a SIMPLE and WORKABLE competence building system AND a PERCEPTION of competence-building system.

Don’t just watch a you tube video for 5 minutes and think for a second you know something. Instead, become educated, certified, learn, practice, become knowledgeable.


Become THE resource. Become one of the “arguably best” in your business.

Test to see if what you are creating is the best or arguably the best.

Kevin, what else is left about credibility that our listeners need to know?

Use credibility-loaded words when communicating about you or your product.

So, for example, “Kevin Hogan has EXPERIENCE in helping your company grow.” Say something more interesting but equally as accurate!

Use Credibility Building Words

Here are just a few.

  • Experienced
  • Qualified
  • Trained
  • Skilled
  • Intelligent
  • Expert
  • Informed
  • “As seen on TV”
  • Has 25 years of experience.

In any situation you have four ways to visibly show personal credibility.

1) Behave in an extroverted fashion.
(Being bold vs. timid. Being verbal vs. quiet. Being aggressive vs. meek.)

2) Be composed, especially “under pressure.”
Be poised not nervous.
Be relaxed, not tense.
Be calm, not anxious.

3) Be Likable.
Be good-natured vs. irritable.
Be cheerful vs. gloomy.
Be friendly vs. unfriendly..


Then, think in terms of evidence….

Cite evidence…and source.

Argue against your own point of view. If you really want to win your audience, argue the polar position…the other candidate’s viewpoint. The more you say that surprises your audience, the more credibility you gain.

“I used to feel the same way until I found xyz….” or “I used to think x but what I didn’t know at the time was that….” or “I used think that as well, but what I didn’t know was….”

This allows you to help the other person/audience understand that you understand their struggle with your message and shows clearly that you can identify with them in addition to giving them a piece of tangible evidence.

Be likable. It affects the listener’s perception of your TRUSTWORTHINESS and THAT is the second key to credibility. Read a book like, Talk Your Way to the Top or Irresistible Attraction to enhance your charismatic influence with others.

Use humor carefully. Don’t tell jokes. Tell stories with surprise and self deprecating humor. Use humor sparingly, but let people laugh.

What are some surprises about people’s credibility?

It never ceases to amaze me how often people who are honest and have high integrity are perceived as untruthful in high-powered communications settings. Indeed, the opposite is also true. The dishonest and crooked are often perceived as truthful and people of high integrity.

Why is this?

Credibility is real but in most cases it will likely need to be seen in the eye of the other person.

You will not be perceived as credible if you don’t meet their expectations.

The law of persuasion to keep in mind here is the Law of Friends:

“When someone asks you to do something and you perceive that person to have your best interests in mind, and/or you would like him to have your best interests in mind, you are strongly motivated to fulfill the request.”


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