Trustworthy people are friendly and competent. In this video, learn body language exercises to improve posture, eye contact, and facial expressions.
- I coached a client whose expressionless poker face makes him intimidating. We're working to warm him up. Yet another client smiles and nods all the time. Super friendly, but overly so when she's in the midst of tough negotiations. Let's look at the subtle, nonverbal cues people use to determine our warmth and competence. First, be mindful of the way you walk.
Powerful walking is expansive. Strive for arm movement and long strides. Your posture when sitting can also convey your level of confidence. Notice how Janet, on our right, sits up tall with shoulders back and chin level. She takes up space with her belongings on the table and with her gestures. Contrast her body language to Paul with his slumped shoulders, rounded back and caved chest.
His arms seem tied to his torso as if he fears taking up any space. He fidgets with his hands and touches his face and neck, signs that communicate nervousness. To work on posture, feel your tailbone make contact with the lumbar support in your chair. If your tailbone slides forward even an inch, you'll go slumpy. Think of a string coming out of the top of your head and attaching to the ceiling above you.
Then there's eye contact. People who win our trust hold eye contact for three to five seconds at a time. Not more or we move from competent to aggressive. Janet balances the competency nonverbals with friendly cues. She smiles and nods while she listens. She widens her eyes and lifts her eyebrows to show interest. Contrast that to Paul who listens in complete stillness, which leaves people wondering if he's engaged at all.
Practice your eye contact by hanging Post-It Notes in various parts of your office and speak directly to each Post-It for three to five seconds when preparing for a meeting or a presentation. If you feel awkward or clownish smiling, practice in the mirror. When you smile genuinely, the corners of your eyes will crease, your teeth will show, and your cheekbones will lift. Not just the corners of your mouth. Know what your face feels like in a genuine smile.
Remember that feeling and replicate it as you smile at the office. Next, consider your clothing. I wish that superficial things like wrinkled trousers or soup on your shirt wouldn't matter. But until people know how smart and kind you are, they have to use these proxies. We do it too. Janet is dressed and groomed carefully while Paul seems a bit disheveled. Notice how people dress in the position you hope to have one day.
Then dress to match your aspiration. Consider asking others what their first impressions of you were. Identify situations where projecting friendliness is your priority and the times you need to ooze confidence and skill. Choose one of these body language cues to focus on. Put a reminder in your daily calendar. Maybe a little smiley face or a very upright stick figure so that you will remember your new practice.
- List the two criteria people use to evaluate trustworthiness.
- Recognize the impact of unintentional bias on trust.
- Identify the five predictors of trust.
- Choose a tactful way to share accomplishments that builds perception of competence.
- Contrast ways a shared-space team and a virtual team build trust differently.
- Break down the components of a trust-rebuilding apology.