7 Steps to Earn Others’ Trust without Saying a Word

Woman Smiling CloseupToday’s post is by Marvin Brown, author of How to Meet and Talk to Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime: Simple Strategies for Great Conversations (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

From years as a leading salesperson, and then a sales trainer for thousands of individuals and teams nationwide, I learned that it’s impossible to earn the trust of customers and clients with words alone. In fact, social scientists believe that people form a distinct positive or negative impression of you before you even open your mouth!

It’s critical, of course, that you are genuine with your words and believe what you’re saying. But I’m going to show you some really simple ways to get your listener to quickly see you as trustworthy and empathetic using just your body language.

Trust is at the center of every type of business transaction. To get hired, for example, a prospective employer needs to see you as trustworthy. To get a customer to buy, she has to trust that you’re not going to sell her a shoddy product or service. And to get team members or managers to listen to your terrific business proposal, they need to feel that you’ve got their back and won’t send them down a blind path.

Forget trying to tell someone to trust you. In fact, if you say “Trust me,” they’ll start running the other direction!

The best way to get others to trust you is by using body language rather than words. Try these techniques.

1. Smile widely and with heart. By doing this, you’re saying, “You can relax and feel safe with me.” If a big open-lipped smile doesn’t come naturally, practice in front of the mirror. Pretend you’ve just bumped into a great friend you haven’t seen in years. Then practice using it when you greet people – and watch what happens when you do.

2. Smile when delivering a positive message. When you offer praise, encouragement, positive feedback, a compliment, or congratulations, always say it with a smile. Matching your message with your expression makes your words more compelling and memorable.

3. Mirror the speaker’s emotions with your face. It’s very reassuring to a speaker when the listener shows that the speaker’s words are having an emotional impact. Show this by nodding, which says, in effect, “Go on, I’m engaged,” or by making appropriate expressions in response to the speaker’s emotions – for example, frowning when the message is sad, shaking your head when the speaker is talking about frustration, squinting when the speaker is conveying irritation, tilting your head to the left to express empathy, and so on.

4. Create more impact using a handshake. Handshakes are underused gestures and can add intensity to different situations. In addition to using a handshake when greeting someone, you can finish a conversation by shaking hands too – a physical punctuation mark that makes your encounter more memorable. Also, shake hands when thanking someone, offering congratulations, and sealing a deal. Incidentally, saying your name along with your handshake when meeting someone new makes them 75 percent more likely to remember your name.

5. Make eye contact when you shake hands. Before letting go of someone’s hand, always look the other person in the eyes for a full second, while smiling, before ending the handshake. Locking eyes for this extra moment has a tremendous impact; it makes you seem charismatic.

6. Listen with your eyes. When another person is speaking, use your eyes to complete the “communication circuit.” Do this by giving face-to-face attention and making eye contact with the person speaking. This simple gesture completes the invisible connection between speaker and listener.

7. Get in the habit of using eye contact longer than usual. We normally maintain eye contact 30-60 percent of the time. When you look at the other person more than 60 percent of the time, it tells them you’re interested and they matter. If maintaining eye contact is difficult for you, it helps to lean forward slightly. If your eyes get tired and need a break, let your gaze migrate slightly to the eyebrows or the nose area just between the eyes. The speaker won’t notice that you’re not looking directly in his or her eyes.

Practice these basic body language strategies until they feel natural. You will notice an enormous difference in the way business associates, coworkers, clients, and prospective customers respond to you. They’ll view you as a genuine person who is sincerely interested in them. Bottom line? You’ll win their trust!

How to Meet and Talk to Anyone– Marvin Brown is an expert in business communication strategies, a sought-after speaker, and the author of How to Meet and Talk to Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime: Simple Strategies for Great Conversations. Learn more at  

8 Responses to “7 Steps to Earn Others’ Trust without Saying a Word”

  1. Thanks for the tips. Greatly appreciated

    • Rick E says:

      Great tips and reminders! I’ve used most of these techniques for many years. As a baby boomer, eye contact has been a key “antenna” for trust. More eye contact, more trust. I’ve heard that millennials are less comfortable with eye contact. For them, more eye contact is potentially intimidating and therefore creates distrust. It would be great to hear from others their experiences and impressions. Thanks for the article!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Along with the recommendations, I’d suggest walking in integrity. This leaves nothing to fear, or to worry over, regardless of the response from those you talk to.

  3. Great reminders, thanks! These work great in the US and Europe, most western cultures will appreciate these gestures. However be careful when employing them in other parts of the world.

    Some eastern cultures (Japan for instance) have a cultural aversion to too much eye contact and strong handshakes. It is not unusual to meet a CEO there and receive a limp handshake. When meeting someone and exchanging business cards, you will do well in Japan to spend an extra couple of seconds to study the card you received before stuffing it in your pocket. Not doing so, or writing on the card, is an insult that wouldn’t apply in the West.

    Understand the cultural differences of perception for these non-verbal language elements before employing them globally.

  4. […] The best way to get others to trust you is by using body language rather than words, writes Marvin Brown. He shares several techniques to improve your leadership by improving your body language.  ThoughtLeaders blog […]

  5. […] -7 Steps to Earn Others’ Trust without Saying a Word […]

  6. […] Marvin Brown, experto en estrategias de comunicación en los negocios y autor del libro “How to Meet and Talk to Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime: Simple Strategies for Great Conversations“  nos sugiere que lo mejor que puede hacer para ganar la confianza de los demás es usar el lenguaje corporal, utilizando estas técnicas: […]

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