From years as a leading salesperson, and then a sales trainer for thousands of individuals and teams nationwide, I learned that it’s impossible to earn the trust of customers and clients with words alone. In fact, social scientists believe that people form a distinct positive or negative impression of you before you even open your mouth!
It’s critical, of course, that you are genuine with your words and believe what you’re saying. But I’m going to show you some really simple ways to get your listener to quickly see you as trustworthy and empathetic using just your body language.
Trust is at the center of every type of business transaction. To get hired, for example, a prospective employer needs to see you as trustworthy. To get a customer to buy, she has to trust that you’re not going to sell her a shoddy product or service. And to get team members or managers to listen to your terrific business proposal, they need to feel that you’ve got their back and won’t send them down a blind path.
Forget trying to tell someone to trust you. In fact, if you say “Trust me,” they’ll start running the other direction!
The best way to get others to trust you is by using body language rather than words. Try these techniques.
1. Smile widely and with heart. By doing this, you’re saying, “You can relax and feel safe with me.” If a big open-lipped smile doesn’t come naturally, practice in front of the mirror. Pretend you’ve just bumped into a great friend you haven’t seen in years. Then practice using it when you greet people – and watch what happens when you do.
2. Smile when delivering a positive message. When you offer praise, encouragement, positive feedback, a compliment, or congratulations, always say it with a smile. Matching your message with your expression makes your words more compelling and memorable.
3. Mirror the speaker’s emotions with your face. It’s very reassuring to a speaker when the listener shows that the speaker’s words are having an emotional impact. Show this by nodding, which says, in effect, “Go on, I’m engaged,” or by making appropriate expressions in response to the speaker’s emotions – for example, frowning when the message is sad, shaking your head when the speaker is talking about frustration, squinting when the speaker is conveying irritation, tilting your head to the left to express empathy, and so on.
4. Create more impact using a handshake. Handshakes are underused gestures and can add intensity to different situations. In addition to using a handshake when greeting someone, you can finish a conversation by shaking hands too – a physical punctuation mark that makes your encounter more memorable. Also, shake hands when thanking someone, offering congratulations, and sealing a deal. Incidentally, saying your name along with your handshake when meeting someone new makes them 75 percent more likely to remember your name.
5. Make eye contact when you shake hands. Before letting go of someone’s hand, always look the other person in the eyes for a full second, while smiling, before ending the handshake. Locking eyes for this extra moment has a tremendous impact; it makes you seem charismatic.
6. Listen with your eyes. When another person is speaking, use your eyes to complete the “communication circuit.” Do this by giving face-to-face attention and making eye contact with the person speaking. This simple gesture completes the invisible connection between speaker and listener.
7. Get in the habit of using eye contact longer than usual. We normally maintain eye contact 30-60 percent of the time. When you look at the other person more than 60 percent of the time, it tells them you’re interested and they matter. If maintaining eye contact is difficult for you, it helps to lean forward slightly. If your eyes get tired and need a break, let your gaze migrate slightly to the eyebrows or the nose area just between the eyes. The speaker won’t notice that you’re not looking directly in his or her eyes.
Practice these basic body language strategies until they feel natural. You will notice an enormous difference in the way business associates, coworkers, clients, and prospective customers respond to you. They’ll view you as a genuine person who is sincerely interested in them. Bottom line? You’ll win their trust!
By Marvin Brown