Earning Trust Begins with Love – a special edition series of Norton Knows

By April 28, 2022Norton Knows, Trust Series

Have you ever tried to take away a food bowl from an eating dog? If you do not have a relationship with that dog built on love and trust, anyone who has attempted this can surely share their pain and probably even show you the bite mark scars left behind as a lesson that was probably never forgotten or repeated.

As most of you know by now I typically write this column each week based on a recent event or observation. Well, my above-mentioned reference came from a personal experience with my own dogs yesterday. With the thunderstorms and hail storms, I had gotten delayed and tied up away from home longer than anticipated. So by the time I had arrived home to feed my little guys, they were starving for sure.

I filled and placed their bowls into their familiar spots and they hungrily started devouring their food. They were so ravenous that they soon pushed their partially eaten bowls under the counter and were trying to eat with their heads tilted sideways to reach their meals. Without hesitating, I leaned over and gently pulled their bowls out from under the counter, they never missed a bite, never growled or snarled, and I could swear I caught a little thankful glance from both puppies as they comfortably continued eating.

Now, I know many of you reading this have dogs and love them dearly and you receive that same love in return with every walk, cuddle, lick, and shared meal and snack. But I also know many people – myself included – who have made the mistake of petting a dog, taking away food, or moving too fast only to be bitten. I once had a hungry German Shepherd take a bite out of my cheek as I was eating a cupcake. Apparently, he liked chocolate cake and vanilla frosting too, and silly me for not sharing.

As I thought about my own dogs though I was reminded that earning trust, building trust, and maintaining trust takes time and commitment. I have had my dogs for more than four years and have loved on them and spoiled them just like many of you do with your own pets.  And then I thought about it a little deeper, what about my family and friends? Have I put in that same level of effort of spoiling and loving on them to earn and build that trust?  And yes, loving on them to build that trust could include some ‘tough love’ to avoid one-sided love or one-sided commitments.

I am reminded of the old question, “How often should we tell our spouses we love them?” Many people try and answer this in several ways, “Every day,” “As often as you can,” “10 times a day,” and other very close guesses. The real answer is this, “Before someone else does!” Well what about our other family members and close friends, how often should we tell them we love them? How about our customers, how often should we tell them we love them? And what about our employees and even employers, would it make sense to ask ourselves how often we should tell them we love them? And the answer to all of the above is, “Before someone else does.”

There are many ways to earn, build, and maintain trust like consistent and honest communication, respect, gratitude and appreciation, and so many more. And there are certainly too many more to cover in one brief column. But love, mutual love, demonstration of love, unconditional love, appreciation of love, and pure love would be an awesome place to start as we look to earn, build, and maintain trust. It will also provide us with some protection from small bites and big bites as we may have to move that proverbial bowl of food from time to time from someone very close to us, whether they are the four-legged kind or human.

I would love to hear your ‘tail’ or tale of love and trust at mnorton@XINNIX.com. And as we fill our days with both, it really will be a better than good week.


Written by Michael “Go-To” Norton, XINNIX President, former CEO and Founder at Tramazing, former President of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, and former Executive Vice President of Sandler Corporate Training, Michael Norton has helped companies accelerate their growth by elevating their talent through learning and development programs.

Michael has had the pleasure of working with world-class companies such as Siemens Healthcare, WebMD, 7-Up, Cardinal Health, Cemex, Boral, HPE, Indeed, Lonza, KONE, Evonik, Quest Software, Dell, Anixter, and many more. for 30+ years he has developed, written, delivered, reinforced, and sold sales and sales management training programs that deliver real ROI while fitting into a company’s culture, processes, daily sales workflow, and budget.

One Comment

  • Michael,
    The dog story reminds me of my childhood. We had a German Shephard when I was real little, and the only one who could move his bowl, scold him, and let him know who was in charge was my mom Sonya.
    It’s a terrible thing when we lose them or they lose trust in who we are and turn on us. Just like our customers. Be proactive and show gratitude and love first.
    Thanks for sharing.

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