Marketing | 4 min read

Oct 11, 2018

Some Psychological Human Shortcuts to Build Trust

Trust is essential to your personal, professional and business success. How you build trust determines how influential you will be. If people don’t trust you, then they won’t listen to you. But if they do, they will be open to your ideas.

Building trust has become an essential skill in the world today. There are so many uncertainties that make it harder to determine who to trust. So if you want to engender trust in people, you need to understand them. How do they decide that they trust a particular person and not the other? It all comes down to psychology.

People use your verbal and nonverbal cues to determine if you are trustworthy.  They analyze your words, how you say it and your accompanying actions to figure out if you have good intentions and if you can carry them out. 

Therefore, your ability to communicate warmth and competence is the key to building trust.  Luckily, there are many ways to convey this to others and build trust with them.

Keep eye contact

When speaking to someone, it is important that you maintain eye-contact. This shows them that you are paying attention and you take the conversation seriously. It also makes your listener feel heard and that you like them.

Research shows that the more people look at each other when speaking, the more they like each other. So if you look away too soon or keep averting your eyes, you will come off as untrustworthy.

According to Michael Argyle, a social psychologist, people maintain eye-contact 40-60% of the time when conversing. We become seemingly attentive if we maintain eye contact for 80% of the time.

So if you want to establish rapport and build trust with someone, you need to look them in the eye about 70-80% of the time when talking to them. Be careful not to blink too much, as excessive blinking indicates stress and nervousness, and creates suspicion. On average, adults blink 15-20 times per minute, but this increases when they are under pressure or stressed.

Mirror body language

You can create rapport and build trust with people if you mirror their body language. It is common to see people subtly matching their non-verbal behaviors especially when the conversation is going well. This could mean assuming similar gestures, posture, facial expressions or stance.

So if you are conversing with someone and they lean forward, you can lean in. If they are gesturing with their hands, you can try as well. This creates a sense of understanding and communicates feelings of empathy and trust. However, be careful not to overdo it as this can make it seem like you are mocking them or don’t take the conversation seriously.

The sound of your voice matters

What you say matters but how you say it matters twice as much. When speaking, you are conveying vocal non-verbal clues that influence your listener’s perception. It is common to lower the pitch of your voice when you want to project authority, but people can always tell.

If you want to come across as credible and authentic, you can vary your voice by speaking in loud to soft tones depending on your message. But make sure that you stay within your normal pitch.

You should also slow down when speaking to allow the conversation to flow freely, and make your listener comfortable. Speaking faster makes the listener feel pressured which can create anxiety. You can also use words that sound similar to your listener’s name. People love to hear their name and like things that are similar to their name.


Greg Hickman