In a world full of dishonest people, finding someone you can trust is like coming across a gold mine.
So, it’s no surprise that trustworthy people are highly likable and respected individuals.
Whether you want to build deeper connections with your team, gain more respect among your peers, or deepen a romantic relationship, knowing how to earn trust is a valuable skill to have.
So here are eight things that all likable and respected people do to earn the trust of others.
1) Use eye contact
While research reveals avoiding eye contact is not a sign of lying, most people agree that individuals who look you in the eyes appear more sincere than those who don’t.
This is because to look someone in the eyes while speaking shows attentiveness. In contrast, lack of eye contact creates a sense of disconnection and can even cause tension or unease.
However, there is such a thing as staring too much.
Social psychologist Michael Argyle suggests looking into someone’s eyes 70 to 80% of the time when listening AND speaking to them.
It has also been found that the best time length to hold eye contact is 7 to 10 seconds when speaking with someone directly. However, in a group setting, aim for 3 to 5 seconds of eye contact per person instead.
But eye contact alone may not be enough to gain someone’s trust, so I recommend combining it with the following body language hack…
2) Stand to the side of someone when interacting
Highly likable people don’t stand directly in front of people when speaking to them. Instead, they stand slightly to the side.
Think about it… If someone approaches you to ask you something (perhaps for your help or a favor) and stands directly in front of you, you may feel trapped or cornered.
This will put you on edge and make you less likely to trust them.
However, if they stand to your side, keeping a clear exit for you, you’ll likely feel less threatened and, thus, more open to helping them.
If you combine this with a slight head tilt, you’ll make yourself come across as much more approachable, open, and trustworthy.
3) Talk slowly
Another thing that can put people on edge is the rapid talking. This is why highly likable people purposely slow down their speech.
Speaking fast can make you appear stressed, anxious, or pushy and make the other person feel like you are rushing them for an answer.
However, speaking slowly makes you appear calm and collected. This puts the other person at ease and makes it easier for them to process what you say.
So, what is the ideal speed of speech?
Researchers at the University of Southern California studied this in 1976, and their results were interesting.
Their findings suggest that if someone already sees you as trustworthy and credible, speaking at a fairly fast speed (195 words per minute) is better than speaking slowly.
If someone is already skeptical of you, they are more likely to improve their perception if you speak at a slower rate (150 to 160 WPM). For example, car dealers (who are generally seen as untrustworthy) gained more trust with customers when they spoke slower.
4) Mirror their body language
Another thing highly likable people do to earn trust is mirroring the body language of the person they are talking to.
- Crossing their legs in the same way
- Using the same hand gestures
You can also mirror their speech, whether it’s the speed they are talking or the words they are using.
By mirroring someone, you are trying to match their energy so that they resonate more with you.
How does this relate to trust?
Well, we are much more likely to trust someone we feel we resonate with and have things in common with than someone we don’t.
You may think, “But hang on, isn’t this just trying to trick someone into trusting you?”
With mirroring, we’re subtly copying some of their actions; we are not lying or being dishonest in any way.
Moreover, the technique is a proven neuroscience method for building trust and connection. Mirroring triggers specific nerve cells in the other person’s brain (mirror neurons), which signals feelings of being understood and seen.
5) Be transparent
Highly likable people can earn trust so well because they never:
- Resort to lying
- Bend the truth
- Keep secrets
- Refrain from telling the whole story
Highly likable people display open and transparent communication.
Even if it makes them look bad, they will still be honest, which is a trait that works in their favor.
Being honest at your own expense shows the other person that you value your relationship and respect them.
Honesty is the foundation for trust in any relationship. If you’ve ever found out someone lied to you, you’ll know how difficult it is to trust that person again.
So highly likable people take honesty VERY seriously.
6) Show vulnerability
Think about a time when someone you didn’t know that well opened up to you and told you something personal…
Chances are, you felt significantly closer to them after this conversation.
You may think you must appear faultless for someone to trust you.
But more and more experts are disagreeing with this misconception.
When we are vulnerable with someone, we show them that we trust them enough to wear our hearts on our sleeve and risk getting hurt.
Jeff Polzer, a professor of organizational behavior at Harvard, explains how vulnerability fosters closeness and trust.
He says being vulnerable is like telling someone, “Look, I have insecurities too,” which breaks down the barrier of self-preservation and makes it easier to trust and help each other.
Trust increases further if the other person responds to your vulnerability by sharing their weaknesses and struggles.
7) Display empathy
Showing compassion and understanding to others has a similar effect as being vulnerable.
When you demonstrate empathy, you show that you care about that person and their feelings, which increases connection and mutual trust.
But how can you show someone that you empathize with them?
There are many ways, such as:
- Show that you are listening intently by repeating what they say (verbal confirmation).
- Refrain from interrupting people when they are speaking.
- Ask questions to understand things further.
- Try to put yourself in their shoes by imagining you were in their situation.
- Make thoughtful gestures like offering a tissue or getting someone a cup of coffee.
According to the 2021 EY Empathy in Business Survey, the majority of employees interviewed (88%) agreed that empathetic leadership creates a culture of trust and loyalty.
However, 46% of these employees felt their company’s efforts to show empathy were dishonest, which suggests that compassion without authenticity results in losing trust rather than gaining it!
8) Stay true to their word
Another finding from the Empathy in Business Survey was that almost half (42%) of the employees interviewed said their employers don’t follow through with their promises.
Not staying true to your word is a surefire way to lose trust and credibility – think about the complete lack of faith the public now has with politicians because of this!
Doing the things you say you’re going to do shows reliability and consistency.
According to research by Harvard Business Review, consistency is one of the three elements of building trust in an organization. In this study, participants rated a leader as trustworthy if they did the following things:
- Set a good example
- Honored commitments and kept promises
- Were willing to go above and beyond
In this day and age, finding people who stay true to their word is not easy, which is why those who do are always highly likable and trustworthy!
Trust is the foundation of any relationship, yet it is earned, not given without reason.
By doing these eight things, you can show those around you that you are dependable, honest, and full of integrity.
Not only will this earn you more respect and popularity. It will allow you to experience deeper connections and more meaningful relationships in all areas of your life.