You've just moved to town and started a new job.
Suddenly you're meeting new friends, business acquaintances and all the other people that will now become part of your daily life.
You want these people to know that you’re a person of character, of integrity, someone they can trust, someone who is worthy of becoming a lifetime friend or partner.
But trust takes years to build. If only there was a way to jump start that trust building process.
Luckily, thanks to science and body language research there is.
This reliance meant that humans had to be internally wired to see specific patterns or behaviors and then make extremely fast decisions based on what was observed.
They had to know if that animal in the bush was a deer or a tiger and then make the correct decision on what do about it.
The wrong decision could be fatal. The humans that survived became exceptional at this, and still are in modern times.
Although we don't usually need to make those kinds of very fast survival decisions today, we still do. We can't help it. What happens is when we encounter new stimuli, (meet a new person for the first time) we instantly judge several things about that person… one of which is if they can be trusted.
This is done automatically before we even realize it using two parts of the brain called the amygdala and posterior cingulate cortex. We see them, the brain reacts, and based on what you see at that time you will make decisions about the person that will be almost impossible to change in the future.
So what can you do to make sure that you will come across as someone that can be trusted? Follow these three secret body language moves to achieve instant trust.
Secret move #1 – Show Your Hands
Your hands are your trust indicators. Let me say that again because it is important…Your hands are your trust indicators. The biggest thing you can do to build trust when you are meeting people for the first time is to make sure your hands are visible. I know that seems odd, but let me explain why.
Back in the old days when we were making those fight or flight decisions that lead to species survival, we came across many of our own kind too. At that point, we had to make the same split-second decisions as to whether these people were a danger or not.
So we would first look at the hands to see if they were carrying a weapon, or hiding something. Once again this is something we still do today instantly and subconsciously and based on what we see, we make that instant decision.
Of the three secrets, this is the most powerful… so do it. Keep your hands visible when meeting new people.
Secret move #2 – Expose Your Internal Organs
Yes, I really mean that. I don't mean slice yourself open and let your internal organs out where everyone can see them. I mean keep your body in an open position as you are facing the person you are meeting and don't have anything between you and them. No arms, books, bags, drinks, or anything but normal clothing.
By facing them with this open and exposed stance you are telling them subconsciously that you trust them not to harm you, you are confident but not aggressive, and that you have nothing to hide. All of these make you instantly more trustworthy to them psychologically.
Bad example: (person is blocking)
Good examples: (open and no blocking)
Secret move #3 – Genuine Smile
There are seven universal micro-expressions that are common across all cultures on earth. Of these micro-expressions, only one can be easily recognized from a long distance, and that is a genuine smile. It can be seen from 300 feet away or the length of a football field.
Considering the species survival information previously discussed… it seems being able to recognize a smile from that distance is by design and therefore, not something to be taken lightly when building trust.
Be careful, though. This has to be a real and not a fake smile. A fake smile is easy to spot and would kill any trust created, so you would be better off not smiling at all then sending one that is not genuine.
When you flash a smile you are showing them that you are friendly, happy to see them, and happy to be there. In addition, studies show that smiling during a meeting, even the first one, encourages collaboration among participants.
So now you see that by using a little bit of science and body language research you can reduce the years it takes to build trust to just an instant.
But be careful, trust that is gained in and instant can be lost in an instant.
So after the impression is made follow up by doing the real work. Being a trustworthy member of your family, company, and community will turn all those new relationships into fulfilling long-term relationships. And isn't that what life is really all about?
Schiller, D. Nature Neuroscience, March 8, 2009.
University of Edinburgh. “How our brains can form first impressions quickly.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150624105936.htm>.
- Ekman, “Facial Expressions of Emotion: an Old Controversy and New Findings”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London, 1992