How to quickly convince someone to trust you (if you’re not an ‘expert’)

As you probably know, winning a person’s trust is often the first step to persuading them of anything. And it seems that we’re all in the persuasion game these days, ‘selling’ ourselves to prospective employers, friends and partners.

So, how can you quickly convince someone to give you their trust? If you’re a well-known expert in your field, if you’re the author of published books and articles with lots of letters after your name, or even if you have thousands of Facebook ‘friends’, then establishing trust may be easy. The psychological principle of ‘social proof’ is a compelling way of making yourself seem credible and therefore trustworthy.

But what if you’re just… well, you?

How can you quickly and easily become a trusted adviser, someone that people will turn to for help and advice… and perhaps, to buy things from?

There’s another psychological principle you can use to build trust quickly.

People trust people they like. And people like people who they believe are like them.

This principle is not as well known as ‘social proof’ (maybe because it doesn’t give the academics such an advantage) but it can work even more effectively… if you know how to convince someone that you are like them.

When you first meet someone, of course, you know very little about them – and even less about what they think they are like! So how do you overcome this barrier and convince them that you are actually very similar people?

Once you have some specific skills, it’s surprisingly easy to do. You don’t need lots of background research. You just need to keep your eyes and ears open, focus on the other person rather than yourself, and use the information you receive.

Here’s how to quickly convince anyone that you are like them:

  • Use their exact words as you talk to them. Don’t paraphrase! Instead, ask questions such as “What kind of X?” (where X is one or more of their words). This works like magic: it’s as if hearing their own words lulls their subconscious into trusting you.
  • Watch their gestures, noticing where they ‘put’ the things they are talking about in the space in and around themselves. Then when you mention the same things, gesture to exactly the same place. As one delighted student put it, “it’s as if you agree to treat their imaginary friends as real.” They’ll soon believe you see the world in exactly the same way as they do.

Warning note: If you know some NLP, don’t mistake these approaches for the NLP techniques “matching predicates” and “matching and mirroring”. There are subtle differences. The approaches I’ve outlined above are simpler for most people to learn than the NLP techniques – and they work more effectively, too.

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