Trust is the building block of any successful relationship, whether in business partnerships, romantic relationships, friends, relatives, etc. Without trust, you can’t form any sort of bond with the person, because people simply don’t want to open up to someone they can’t fully count on. On the other side of that coin, people need to be able to trust you, as well. We often think about how other people gain our trust, but what about how we get others to trust us?
Here are 5 things trustworthy people do differently:
1. They apologize for things they cannot control.
This might seem unnecessary or silly at first, but an apology about something like the weather, for instance, makes you seem more trustworthy and compassionate.
For example, Harvard researchers recruited a young man to ask 65 strangers in a busy train station if he could borrow their cell phone, but he only did this experiment on rainy days. Half of the time when he approached people, he started with an apology like “I am so sorry about the rain!” before asking if he could borrow their cell phone. Only 9 percent of people who didn’t hear the unnecessary apology let him borrow their phone. In contrast, 47 percent of those who heard the apology let him borrow their cell phone. Researchers have found that starting off a conversation with an apology, whether necessary or not, exemplifies empathy and concern for the listener, which instills trust in him or her.
2. They mimic body language to make you feel comfortable.
It turns out that noticing people’s subtle gestures during a conversation and mirroring their body language can make them trust you more. An astonishing study published in the journal Academy of Management Proceedings revealed that MBA students asked to mimic a partner in a negotiation exercise (i.e. resting their elbow on the table if the other person did) ??reached an agreement 67 percent of the time. (The participants had no clue they were being mimicked.) Students told not to mimic the other person’s body language reached an agreement only 12.5% of the time. Researchers attribute the success in the negotiations to interpersonal trust, explaining that mimicry could help solve arguments and even assist in mediation.
3. They are humble.
In general, people trust humble people more, because they come across as much more personable and friendly. For example, a University of California at Berkeley study revealed that showing embarrassment helps people trust you more. In the study, researchers showed participants a video of someone telling a man that he earned a perfect score on a test. He responded with embarrassment some of the time, and pride the other times.
After watching the video, the participants played games to measure how much they trusted the man. The results revealed that those who had seen him react in an embarrassed manner trusted him more. Researchers explain that embarrassment shows acceptance and congeniality in a person, making them more trustworthy and approachable.
4. They often like to wear soothing scents.
It turns out that how you smell can affect people’s level of trust in you. A Dutch study had 90 adults separate into three groups to play something called the “Trust Game,” which measures people’s trust in one another. How does this game work? Basically, the researchers give all players a certain amount of money, and the participants choose whether to keep it or give it to someone else. If the players choose to transfer money, the profits triple, but the trustee gets the final say in whether to share the profits with the trustor, a decision that requires trust.
During the game, the groups had exposure to three different scents: either none at all, lavender, or peppermint. The study revealed that the group who smelled lavender had much more willingness to trust someone with their money than the other groups. The olfactory nerve connects to the part of the brain that signals whether we should trust others or not, and lavender has a soothing effect, while peppermint excites the nerves.
5. They often share mutual friends.
Obviously, you will gain someone’s trust more often if you share a mutual friend with him or her. Apparently, two people have a higher likelihood of trusting one another when they share a common friend. This way, your friend will have probably mentioned you to the mutual friend at least a few times, which makes the person feel like they know you a little bit already.
University of British Columbia students performed a study where they sent random friend requests to people on Facebook. Not surprisingly, people were more likely to accept as the number of mutual friends increased. Almost 80 percent of people accepted the request when they had 11 or higher mutual friends, but only 20 percent of people accepted the requests when the two had no mutual friends.