When we meet someone new, either in person, presenting from a stage, or on a video we subconsciously quickly answer two questions:
Can I trust this person?
Can I respect this person?
Interestingly, Amy Cuddy in research for her book Presence, found that we judge warmth and trustworthiness over competency and trustworthiness to be more important.
Because from an evolutionary perspective, it is more crucial to know whether a person deserves our trust. “If he doesn’t we’d better keep our distance, because he’s potentially dangerous, especially if he’s competent”.
Of course, we do value people who are capable especially in circumstances where that trait is necessary but we only notice that after we’ve judged their trustworthiness.
So what helps build trustworthiness quickly?
“When you listen to someone it’s the most profound act of human respect.”
William Ury Author of “Getting to Yes”
The Paradox of Listening – is that by relinquishing power – the temporary power of speaking, asserting, knowing – we become more powerful. When you stop talking and listen, here’s what happens;
You acquire useful information to be able to speak more directly to needs and fears. And when people feel heard they are more willing to listen, giving you greater chance to be able to connect more openly and solve problems together.
In a public speaking or video context where you cannot speak directly with your audience, showing early on in your presentation that you have considered any opposition to what you are talking about, by addressing any resistance, can also help build connection and trust with the audience. By showing that you have considered their feelings or point of view, this will help them to open up their mind and heart (their most highly guarded possession!) to you and your ideas.
Trust is earned by showing up wholeheartedly, being “appropriately” open, with a desire, and the preparation to serve your audience to the best of your ability.
We decipher trust through non-verbal clues mostly – by what your body and facial expressions are doing more than the words you are saying!
Presenting an inauthentic version of yourself because that’s what you think people want to see can leave the audience feeling unconvinced and like something feels a bit off.
And we need to be present to “perform” at our best which is sometimes difficult if we get nervous or start doubting ourselves, we can get distracted by in-the-moment self-evaluations of how well we are or are not doing – the “ever calculating, self -evaluating seething cauldron of thoughts, predictions, anxieties, judgments.”
When you feel this happening take a moment, breathe deeply, straighten up, open up your body, relax your shoulders and smile even, this will help to realign and resync your body and mind to portray the best, most trustworthy, version of yourself.