We frequently think of making deals and the business world as being cutthroat and a world in which everyone is out for themselves. In reality, trust is the foundation of most successful business interactions and deal-making.
According to a piece published on Forbes.com, the key to success in today’s business world is the ability to persuade someone to collaborate with you to achieve a common goal or objective. The writer of the piece argues in the business community it’s no longer about power, but instead, success is about trust.
Fortune wrote a similar piece in June 2015, saying a clearly communicated sense of ethics shows those around you that you care about more than merely making money. When there’s a sense of trust in business relationships two of the primary benefits, according to the Fortune piece, are that clients are more willing to work through challenges with you when they see you as being transparent, honest and trustworthy. The second big benefit is that real collaboration can happen when everyone within a business role is working honestly and within the framework of shared values.
Edelman conducts an annual study on trust in business, called the Edelman Trust Barometer. According to the results of the most recent survey, engagement and integrity are the most important areas within which companies can build trust.
With all of this information demonstrating the importance of trust in the business world, the question then becomes how to create that sense of confidence, particularly when you’re faced with only a short period of time to build a relationship that can lead to a deal or a long-term collaboration.
One of the best ways to evoke a nearly instantaneous sense of trust is through your body language. You can establish a strong sense of authority and mutual trust without any verbal communication at all. Research conducted by psychologist Albert Mehrabian led to his creation of the 7-38-55 rule. This refers to the concept that during a first impression your words are 7% of the interaction, tone of voice is 38% and body language makes up a whopping 55%.
Consider these 6 tips that can show potential partners and business associates that you’re honest and transparent.
1. Maintain Eye Contact
You may have heard this advice before, but it’s one of the simplest and most effective ways to show not only a sense of trustworthiness and transparency but also to show demonstrate you’re interested and engaged with what they’re saying and your relationship in general. If you consistently break eye contact, frequently blink or tend to look away from someone’s eyes, they’re going to feel as if you not only lack interest but perhaps are being dishonest with them.
2. Show Empathy and Understanding
If your potential business partner is speaking and you’re staring blankly, it’s going to seem as if you’re not listening or just don’t care. Let them know you not only are listening but also understand what they’re saying and their feelings by mirroring their words through your facial expressions. You can show understanding by nodding, shaking your head to confirm a sense of frustration or anger they may be expressing, and of course smiling when they’re saying something that seems positive.
3. Watch Your Posture
Many of us underestimate the power of posture. The ideal posture to convey a sense of trustworthiness is to remain casual, yet attentive. Keep your shoulders back but try to avoid looking too stiff or uncomfortable. You want to look as if you’re confident yet at ease and ready to engage in what the other person is saying.
4. Keep Your Voice Natural
The tone of your voice is a cue that can be detected not only in person, but also on phone calls, so it’s important to make sure you always keep your voice at a natural pitch. Trying to make your voice sound deeper to convey power or authority is likely to be noticeable by other people and will convince them you’re not transparent. Try to keep your voice just as you would during a casual conversation with a friend.
5. Keep Your Arms Open
You may not even realize it, but if you tend to close or fold your arms during a conversation, it can make you seems guarded perhaps someone who isn’t going to be honest or transparent. Work to keep your arms relaxed and open to convey these feelings to the person you’re engaged with at the moment.
6. Gesture Near Your Face
According to body language experts, gestures indicate you’re actively engaged in a conversation and also listening. When you gesture during business conversations try to make sure your hands are above your waist and near your face and eyes, since these are the areas you want other people to focus on.
Ultimately, your goal with your body language should be to create not only a positive first impression but also the lasting sense of trustworthiness. All too often we tend to ignore the importance of body language, which can sabotage business relationships and networking. With a bit of focus on simple but valuable body language concepts, you can become stronger and more successful in the business world.