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Gain Trust – Could Be a Matter of Life or Death

by | Jan 25, 2022 | 2 comments

I never thought I’d write a blog about how building trust could save your life. Save your bottom line, yes. Dying, no.

Not trying to be overdramatic here. Gaining trust saved four hostages’ lives last week after an 11-hour standoff at Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.

“Jewish security officials said Rabbi Cytron-Walker modeled how to behave in a hostage crisis, gaining the trust of the gunman”, said Michael Masters, the Secure Community Network CEO.


Regular SFY Blog Readers know my stance on the importance of gaining trust as a communicator. You have heard me say “trust” is my favorite word when it comes to speaking for yourself. People do business with people that they know, like and TRUST.

From various accounts of this hostage situation, here is a list of ways the Rabbi and the others communicated trust during this event.

Engage. “The Rabbi Cytron-Walker engaged Akram, the gunman, and kept him calm.”

Listen. “Cytron-Walker made clear to Akram that he trusted him.”

Stay calm & present. The Rabbi said, “As part of clergy training we talk about being a calm, non-anxious presence, we do that in hospital rooms, we do that during the most difficult individual moments… I did the best that I could to do that throughout the standoff.”

Use names. Masters, the CEO of the Secure Community Network, remarked, “The offender referenced the Rabbi by name, referenced at least one of the other hostages by name.”

Create rapport. “When Akram arrived at the synagogue the Rabbi made him tea, speaking with him extensively.”

Share credit. Cytron-Walker gave great credit to prior security courses he and his congregation had received as the reason he and the other hostages survived.

Gain trust in your world. It could be a lifesaver.

© 2022 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved

Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and believes that gaining trust with her clients has been the reason for the success of Speak For Yourself®.

Did you know we offer a free 20-minute communication consultation?

Photo ©:  123RF Stock Photo

Source material: Texas Jewish Post, Jan. 20, 2022


  1. Roger Evans

    This could literally be a life-saving message. It also applies to the trust we build with people we interact in our daily lives – not just hostage-takers. Thank you, Karen.

    • Karen Cortell Reisman

      Roger – thanks for your comment. Yes, creating trust by the way you communicate can save lives and save businesses and enhance friendships in our daily lives.

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