Trust: One Syllable, Five Letters, Years in the Making

Image result for storytelling

Steve Bryant has an all-too-true piece about the rapport between brands and content titled “Make relationships, not things.” Or, as the byline goes, “You can’t ‘thing’ your way to people trusting you.”

I like that, ’cause I don’t like it when people try and thing me.

What’s interesting about the article, however, is not just the down-to-earth, interpersonal aspect to Mr. Bryant’s writing, but the fact that the lessons can be applied to so many different facets of life. And one of those is writing/storytelling:

“All storytelling decisions begin with deciding what kind of relationship you want to have with your audience…All relationships are based on trust.”

Be truthful with your reader. One of the earliest lessons I learned about good writing is never to underestimate your reader. No matter how “unrefined” you may think the average reader is, they will pick up on more than you would sometimes care to imagine. In short, their BS radar is a highly effective, well-weaponized piece of mental ironmongery.

“[T]he storyteller knows that they, the storyteller, aren’t the point of the discourse; the point of the discourse is the idea — which is larger than the storyteller and which never ends.”

I suppose this would best be summarized as follows: show don’t tell. Or perhaps simply, Lose the ego, yo; nobody cares about how cool your mullet is or how many degrees you’ve earned online from Einstein U.

This approach would then be furthered by what every writing teacher and art instructor tells their pupils: Do what it is you’re passionate about, and let that passion flow through your work. When it’s not blood, sweat, tears, hope, remorse, love, hate, loss, bliss, failure, aspirations, etc. coming through the bottom line, the reader won’t make it to the end of the line you’re writing.

“[T]he liar is lying because they fear a negative response to the truth. They’re afraid that if they tell somebody the truth, that somebody will no longer like them, or love them, or trust them, or whatever it is the liar fears most. They care about themselves, not their audience.”

Given a slight twist: Don’t try and create human nature through your words, emulate and reflect it. If nature is the vast canvas on which all life takes place, then your challenge is to hold your very own mirror up to it so that others can see the image just as well, if not better, than you do.

Like I said in the beginning, Mr. Bryant is ostensibly talking about the brand/content relationship in his writing, so I’ll leave it off here today with one of my favourite lines he penned about perfidy and the deliberate breach of trust:

“[R]eject all kinds of stupid perfidy, from the deplorable (“eco-conscious” gasoline companies), to the inane (unlabeled-but-paid-for lifestyle porn on Instagram), to the wildly unhealthy (stop posting for the likes, friend — you’re killing yourself).”

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