How to Inspire Trust with a See-Through Story

See-through Stories“It”s a matter of time before everyone finds out I’m over my head… that I don’t really know what I’m doing!”

Sounds familiar?

The first time those words spilled out of my mouth, my mentor was in the room. With a single sentence, I was about to destroy her confidence that I could teach writing to engineering students. Or so I thought.

“Don’t worry, we all feel the same way,” she responded. “I could not trust you if you didn’t feel that way… because you would not be asking for help.”

That was my first lesson on the value of transparency.

How See-through Stories Inspire Trust

A see-through story, one of seven stories leaders must learn to tell well, is all about transparency. It spells out “you can trust me.”

Annette Simmons, author of The Story Factor, promotes the idea that telling authentic, personal stories is the best way to demonstrate trustworthiness when our audience hasn’t had the time to experience it for themselves. She reminds us that…

Announcing that “I’m a good person (smart, mortal, ethical, well connected, well informed, savvy, successful — whatever [your audience trusts] … is more likely to activate suspicion than trust. People want to decide these things for themselves.

 Everything You Say and Do Tells a Story

Telling personal, see-through stories, specially in a business setting, can be risky. Stories have to fit the occasion, time constraints, and the type of audience you have before you. Preparation and practice can go a long way.  You don’t want to be perceived as self-indulgent.

Additionally, don’t discount expressions that also convey see-through stories:

1. Saying, “I need your help.”
2. Admitting, “I’m over my head… I need you.”
3. Admitting that you were wrong.
4. Admitting that you made a mistake.
5. Modeling courage when courage is risky.
6. Taking the blame when it belongs to you.
7. Giving away the credit when it belongs to someone else.
8. Saying “Thank you” in meaningful ways.
9. Surrendering control.
10.Making the most of first impressions.

Now, it’s your turn. What see-through story can you tell today to begin building more trust with your team?


If using story as a vehicle to build trust is new to you, consider investing in coaching.  Contact me to discuss how I can help.

Maria Keckler

Maria helps clients clarify the story they want to tell… then designs and delivers training and coaching that align with that story. Whether she’s helping clients design high-impact meetings, communication training, or presentation slides, Maria ensures their message is getting across superbly. Maria is also founder and president of SUPERB COMMUNICATION.

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