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Attitude, Responsibility, and Trust
- from our archives

Mastering the A.R.T. of Credibility
By Tom Donoghue
People buy from people they trust.

"How long have you been married?"
"Do you have kids? How many? What are their ages?"
"What kinds of things do you like to do outside the office?"
"Why should I buy from you??"
I stood there, stunned. Here I am, hosting a night out at an NHL hockey game for a prospective client, and my prospect is busy asking me these questions! My questions! I thought I was the sales guy here, not him! What in the world was going on here? This was a first for me, and I told him so.

My inquisitive prospect then explained to me something I had learned, and apparently forgotten, long ago. His message was about credibility. His message was this:
People buy from people they trust.

Since he and I had found each other through a trusted mutual business contact, we were both naturally curious about each other. However, the foundations of our curiosity were so evidently different, so incongruent, that it has quite literally changed the way I have begun to view human interaction in my life. I was interested in his business, his budget. He was interested in me. I can see now how utterly selfish I was.

After the hockey game, I spent several painfully introspective days examining my approach to business, and life. I had become hardened, a little cynical, and presumptuous. I blindly believed that prospective clients were so busy, so inundated, and so equally cynical in their thinking that they were comfortable foregoing the development of personal relationships to get on with the business at hand. "Whadyasellin?" Get in, get out. I couldn’t believe I had devolved to this level of professional business etiquette. I vowed to change.

The more I peeled the onion of my life, searching for core truths, the more I cried. I was not serving myself, or aspiring to serve others, at all. It wasn’t always like this. At one time I was a thoughtful, service driven sales pro. But these days, I was more focused on my own goals, my own agendas. It wasn't the "me" I wanted me to be. That’s when I stumbled on a simple solution, one I could relate to immediately, and one which was easy to remember and act on.

Although this piece is called The A.R.T. of Credibility, I have already begun to substitute other words in place of Credibility. The A.R.T. of Parenting, Husbandry, Selling, Growing, Living. So far, it seems to be working. If it can work for you, it’s yours to have.

A.R.T. stands for Attitude, Responsibility, and Trust. It’s so simple, and for me, so redolent with truth, I can’t believe it took this long to boil my life down to these three simple points of conduct. I am forever indebted to my prospect for jarring me awake.

A.R.T. is simple, but it is not easy. I’m struggling to continually apply the following principles, each of which functions as its own check and balance system.

Attitude: Be ready and willing to serve, with no thought whatsoever to what is in it for you. I believe that this is my single weakest link, and I have to continually remind myself to work in the service of others every minute of every day.

Responsibility: Take total responsibility for yourself, always. No blame, no regret. It is incumbent on you not to act irresponsibly, or allow anyone else’s behavior to reflect irresponsibly on you, your efforts, or your integrity.

Trust: This is the biggie. Trust is everything in human relationships. Without trust, there is no foundation for growth, partnership, or mutual value. Without trust, everything becomes one sided and deceptive. Trust is everything. Be willing to place your trust in another person, and never, ever take advantage of someone’s trust in you.

So, that’s my story. If practicing the A.R.T. of Credibility makes you rich, or happy, or enlightened, just imagine how the people around you will feel as a result! Give it a try.

© Tom Donoghue December 2002
tdonoghue at

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