I was selling products all day and was finishing up talking to this customer when he paused, looked straight into my eyes, and said, ‘A good man you are, there’s only a couple of us left.’ Then he walked away with his wife.
I immediately thought to myself how strange it was to hear a customer speak from the heart to a sales person. A flood of memories from all the different times I had built trust with people, very quickly after meeting them, came to mind. This experience triggered me to clearly see the patterns of trust building that I’ve used throughout my life.
Based on my intuitive insight, and following up with some psychology research, I want to give you 5 things that you can do to build trust quickly.
1. Show your authentic smile
Research shows that genuine smiles, the kind of smiles that engage the muscles around the eyes, are indicators of trustworthiness.
The reason I call it your authentic smile is because it has to come from the emotional capacity within you. Every time that I’ve been able to build trust quickly, I’ve exhibited high amounts of positive emotion that naturally produces a smile on my face.
What I’ve caught myself doing that I find to be effective, which you can do too, is that I prime my emotions. This means that I consciously regulate my emotions before or after an event. I think through how I feel and I try to focus on something that I can approach with a positive disposition.
For example, I might think to myself that I get to meet lots of interesting customers and I get to connect with them. This thought allows me to focus on connecting with other people, and instead of focusing on myself, I now have built an emotional capacity to connect with others. This enables me to experience more positive emotion, leading to me showing my authentic smile, and people trusting my face.
I know that people who are higher in extraversion and lower in neuroticism may find this easier, but we can all learn to built trust and deliver an authentic smile.
2. Mirror the other person’s communication style
Mirroring other people is a powerful way to build trust that is often under exercised or misused. In basic terms, mirroring is matching your actions with the actions of the person you want to build trust with. For example, if someone is speaking very slowly and softly, if you want to build rapport, it’s best that you speak slowly and softly back. Speaking really loudly and obnoxiously is going to make them feel uncomfortable. An easy rule of thumb I use is to simply match the energy of the person you are talking with.
Mirroring doesn’t just have to do with talking. You can mirror other people by your body posture, hand gestures, blurting out random sounds that people make, and a whole host of mirroring actions.
Mirroring makes other people feel comfortable because you are communicating like they do. It makes people feel like they can relate to you, that you’re safe to be around, and that they can trust you.
Where people get mirroring wrong is when they try too hard to mirror somebody else. They go too overboard because they haven’t developed a way to naturally mirror other people. This is because they haven’t yet developed parts of their personality that enable them to deal with a large spectrum of communication styles.
For example, I personally am equally comfortable having a long, softly spoken, deeper conversation as I am a loud, quick-paced conversation where everyone is talking over the top of each other. Having a full range of experience has increased my capacity to mirror and connect with people.
Remember, authentic mirroring is less about trying to act like some else to manipulate them, and more about making people feel comfortable by communicating on their level.
3. Pay close attention to the person in front of you
Paying close attention doesn’t just mean you are pretending to look at their face, it means you are looking at them speak and are actively engaged emotionally.
Empathetically show that you understand by looking into their eyes and slightly nod or softly respond with short verbal indications of your understanding of what they are saying. You don’t want to stare them down, but using an honest measure of eye contact shows you are actively paying attention and that you care about them.
When people know that you understand who they are, and their situation, they trust you. When they can feel that you are feeling what they are going through, they trust you. Paying close attention to a person will make them feel this way.
4. Be prepared to show vulnerability
In my opinion, the reason why people like Batman more than Superman is because Superman seems almost too unrealistic. He doesn’t seem vulnerable enough for us to be emotionally invested.
If you are open and honest with how you speak to people you’ll show strength, but you’ll also show vulnerability. Showing vulnerability doesn’t mean pointing out all your weaknesses, it means being real and allowing people to emotionally identify with you.
People trust vulnerability because it’s believable and it shows that you are willing to put yourself out there. You have some skin in the game so people trust that you are invested in what you are saying.
5. Demonstrate that you do what you say
People looking for quick fixes to building trust have to realize that they actually have to be trustworthy. You can’t just smile and do all the rapport building tricks but then outright do something completely different to what you said you’d do.
If you can demonstrate that you do what you say you do in the beginning moments of meeting someone, then people are likely to trust in you based on what they observe.
All you need to do is keep being consistent in doing what you say and people will be able to trust you in that area.
You can build trust with people very quickly if you are being truly authentic about connecting with them.