How To: Earn Someone's Trust Without Ever Saying a Word

Earn Someone's Trust Without Ever Saying a Word

There's more to earning someone's trust than simply shaking their hand, especially if you're not particularly trustworthy. Your body language doesn't reveal your thoughts, it reveals your intentions, and sometimes intentions are better left unrevealed. Psychopaths, take note...

The best time to gain someone's trust is the very second you meet. UCLA psychologist and professor Albert Mehrabian claims that 55% of a first impression is influenced by body language. Only 7% of that impression comes from spoken language.

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Your Pose Literally Changes You

When I think of power, I think of Frank Underwood from House of Cards. He's possibly one of the most untrustworthy characters on television (er, Netflix), yet he still manages to steal and manipulate everyone's trust.

A study by Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy has shown that standing or sitting in a "powerful" pose actually increases your testosterone levels, and thus your focus, attention, drive, and control. At the same time, putting yourself in a "powerless" pose decreases your testosterone and increases your cortisol levels.

After simply standing in one of the poses pictured above for only two minutes, participants in the study saw their testosterone levels change significantly.

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People put their trust in someone they think is powerful and confident. As long as you don't come off as arrogant or conceited, you can convince them you're confident, which goes a long way in earning their trust.

Focus on the Direction of Your Feet

Chances are a stranger will look more at your feet than your eyes. This isn't entirely out of shyness. The direction of your feet tells them what you think about them.

To win someone's trust, you need to appear open to receiving their trust. Symbolized in a handshake, trust is mutual. Only turning your torso to speak and keeping your toes pointed away from the person is a sign of distrust. It's an evolved precaution in case we need to make a quick run for it.

Eye Contact for 7-10 Seconds

On average, we only make eye contact for 60% of a conversation, at most, and we have smartphones to blame for that.

If you want to open yourself up to someone's trust, studies show that maintaining eye contact for 70% to 80% of a conversation, or roughly 7 to 10 seconds on average, is optimal for communicating trust and friendship.

Of course counting in your head while you talk is just ridiculous, so just stare at a wall for 7 to 10 seconds and get a sense of how it feels. It feels long. Thats how long you should be looking someone in the eye.

When Laughing, Look Directly at the Person

Next time you see a group of people laughing, look closely. Who is looking at who? The expression of laughter means we have opened ourselves up emotionally, and naturally we direct those emotions towards people whom we trust them with. In other words, when we laugh we look at the person we trust the most.

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You can use this to communicate trust and to measure it. Get the other person to laugh. If you're in a group, are they looking at you? If not, look at them to show you trust them, and they'll be likely to trust you.

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Image credits: Poses comparison via Nicole Davis, Frank Underwood via Netflix, Obama laughing via Pete Souza/White House, Facing feet and staring shaker via Shutterstock

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