Whether you are interviewing for a new position or selling your product or service to a prospective client, you’re efforts are wasted if the other party does not trust you.
Growing up you were told not to slouch, look people in the eye when shaking hands and recently your partner insisted that it wasn’t exactly what you said, but how you said it. If you are perceived negatively it will be difficult (if not impossible) to gain trust.
Why is trust so important?
Influence is channelled through trust. It is how ideas are shared and accepted. If you’re not trusted your ideas are dead in the water. Having the best idea is worth nothing if people don’t trust you.
We all know that body language is all-important when it comes to making first impressions, forming new and maintaining existing relationships and developing trust — three things we do every day.
Most of us have also heard that there are three elements that form first impressions (at the point of deciding whether we like or dislike someone):
• Words are 7% of the message
• Tone of voice is 38%
• Body language is 55%
Whether you’re starting a new job or you’re pitching your product to a new client, understanding the social science behind 93% of your message is an essential first step to building relationships and knowing how to gain trust.
Here is how you can harness the power of nonverbal communication to build better relationships and continue to learn how to gain trust.
Eye contact – not to be underestimated
Why is it that we sometimes meet people and feel as though they’re untrustworthy? Possibly because we are not seeing eye-to-eye…
Numerous studies show that the more people look at each other, the more they like each other. It has been found that we maintain eye-contact 40-60% of the time we’re talking to someone. But we become much more attentive when we become the listener, maintaining eye-contact with the speaker for 80% of the time they have the floor.
To build rapport and gain trust with another person, your gaze should meet theirs about 70-80% of the time. This lays the groundwork of gaining trust by showing that a) you’re listening to what they have to say and b) you like them.
Research also shows that:
• Ideal eye-contact lasts roughly 7-10 seconds at a time in a one-on-one conversation. Look away too soon and you risk implying that you’re untrustworthy.
• Excessive blinking is suspicious. Adults normally blink anywhere from 15-20 times per minute. Our blink rate increases when we’re stressed or under pressure.
Mirroring body language – you see what I’m doing
When people are engaged in a conversation — and it’s going well — it’s common to see them subtly imitate each other’s body language. This could mean assuming a similar posture, stance, series of gestures, facial expression, etc. Why? Matching nonverbal behaviours creates the sense that people are on the same page and conveys feelings of trust and empathy.
In experiments it transpired that two parties reached a deal or consensus 67% of the time where one party mirrored the other, compared to 12% when no mirroring was taking place. So you can intentionally create rapport and gain trust with another person by simply mirroring their body language. If they’re leaning forward, lean in. If they’re gesturing with their hands to convey an idea, try it yourself.
Don’t go overboard – it’s a fine line between psychological similarity and just plain weird.
It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it
In a recent analysis of 120 executive speeches, it was found that the sound of a speaker’s voice matters twice as much as the message itself. Computer software was used to analyse speakers’ voices, then feedback was collected from a panel of 10 experts and 1,000 listeners. The speakers’ voice quality accounted for 23% of listeners’ evaluations; the content of the message accounted for 11%. Other factors were the speakers’ passion, knowledge and presence.
Part of gaining trust relies on your awareness of the vocal nonverbal clues you’re sending. A few tips to bear in mind for your next meeting:
• Stay within your normal pitch. People will lower the pitch of their voices as a way to project authority. But listeners can always tell (and yes, they will judge you). You’ll come across as much more authentic and credible by using expressive speech (i.e. shifting from loud tones to soft tones) within your normal range.
• Slow down. Studies show that speaking faster than the other person is likely to make them feel “pressured” in the moment.
So eye contact, mirroring body language and intonation could be the key to making good first impressions, developing relationships and building trust. All you need now is the right experience for the job, or the perfect product or service for the client and you’re all set!
Want to discuss further? Give me a ring!