A Trusted Expert

Despite her excitement to meet with Coach, Pat was ten minutes late getting to the coffee shop. “Coach Smith, I’m so sorry for being late,” she began. “A meeting with my boss ran long.”

Coach replied, “It’s okay Pat, some things can’t be helped. One thing you have more of when  you retire is time. I’ve enjoyed the people watching. So, how did things go this week?”

Pat dove in and told him how she shared information about similar organizations with her team. She said, “I started off sharing a disconcerting trend about big corporations and learning. When I saw a concerned look on some faces I quickly pivoted and said, ‘However, the trend with mid-sized companies like us is an increasing investment in L&D.’” 

“Well done Pat!” Coach said emphatically. You may not know this but you did something key when it comes to influencing people’s thoughts. You started with a negative then transitioned to a positive using the word ‘however.’ ‘But’ is another transitional word you can use as well. People typically forget what came before ‘but’ and remember what comes after. At least that’s how it works in my house when Sally says, ‘I love you but…’” he said with a grin.

“Well, I guess I got lucky,” Pat replied.

Coach said, “Perhaps, but now you know the power so be thoughtful about how you present information.” Sipping his coffee, he went on, “What I’d like to share with you today is a principle known as authority. It basically tells us people are more likely to believe individuals they view as trustworthy experts.

“My team knows me pretty well so is there any need for this?” she inquired.

“Absolutely! You certainly don’t want to brag in front of them but your boss can say things about you that will be perfectly natural. For example, you said you were working on earning an industry specific learning designation. Whenever you get that, ask your boss to make a company-wide announcement about your accomplishment. Here is something key; you should write most of the announcement. That’s because nobody knows you as well as you do. It’s an opportunity to make sure the right information gets in front of your team and others.”

“I never thought of that but it makes total sense. It’s similar to a speaker at a conference being introduced to the audience,” Pat said, verbalizing her thoughts as they emerged.

“That’s exactly right,” Coach said. “No speaker would leave it to chance as to what someone might say, or not say, when making an introduction before a big speech.”

“What else can I do to leverage the principle?” Pat asked.

“Two things, one of which you already did. I said this principle is about being a trusted expert. You can gain trust when you admit a weakness, shortcoming, or acknowledge you don’t know something. But you don’t leave it there. Transition with ‘but’ or ‘however’ into something you do know or one of your strengths.”

Laughing Pat replied, “I have plenty of shortcomings and there’s lots I don’t know so I think this one will be easy to perfect.”

“The second thing you want to do is cite any sources you have. For example, you mentioned having read about trends in L&D. Next time make sure you share the magazine, report, or website by name with your team. That simple act adds lots of weight behind what you’re saying,” he concluded.

Squinting her eyes as she thought about it, Pat asked, “Is that why you always referenced other programs and coaches by name when you were implementing a change with the team?”

“Absolutely. You and the other players may not have realized it at the time but that simple action on my part made it easier for all of you to buy into the changes,” Coach said as if he were revealing a secret. 

Pat smiled and said, “I feel like I’m getting to know the wizard behind the curtain.”

Smiling back at her, Coach replied, “It might seem like magic but trust me, there’s no wizardry to it. It’s applied science, putting the research from social psychology into daily action. Besides, there was only one wizard, John Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood.”

Looking at her watch Pat said, “Again, sorry for being late. I really need to get going because I have friends coming into town this evening. As usual, you’ve given me plenty to ponder over the weekend. Same time next week?”

“Unfortunately I can’t meet next Friday because Sally and I will be taking a long weekend. You have a good bit to work with now so how about meeting again in two weeks?” he asked.

Walking towards the door Pat said, “Yes, with all that you’ve shared so far I have a lot to keep working with. I hope you and Sally enjoy your time together.” With that they walked out of the coffee shop and waved goodbye.



  1. And Now for Something Completely Different
  2. Coach’s Lesson on Liking
  3. Game Time for Pat
  4. Coach’s Lesson on Reciprocity
  5. Tis Better to Give
  6. A Lesson on Peer Pressure
  7. Putting Peer Pressure to Work at Work
  8. A Trusted Expert
  9. Becoming a Respected Leader
  10. Ask, Don’t Tell if You Want Commitment
  11. Less Directive
  12. Wins and Losses
  13. Don’t be a Downer
  14. Self-sacrifice
  15. Pay it Forward

Brian Ahearn, CPCU, CTM, CPT, CMCT

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only a dozen people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His new book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world.

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