The latest corporate scandal, a politician's illicit affair, or the professional athlete's arrest -- all give us a good deal of practice in identifying the body language of denial and deception:
- Averting eye contact (except in some countries, where this is a sign of respect for one's elders)
- Touching the mouth or nose (lying)
- A forced smile with no eye involvement (insincere)
- Feet pointed away from the person asking questions (as if trying to escape the scene)
- Arms folded (defensiveness)
But not nearly so much attention has been paid to the body language of trust. Salespeople, marketing professionals, consultants, speakers, physicians, counselors, coaches and attorneys particularly stand to benefit as they learn to use the language of trust naturally -- without thinking. In fact, their livelihood depends on it.
It helps, of course, when a person sincerely likes and trusts another person or group. Body language more naturally reflects what a person feels. But some cultures and some people show less emotion in general. For example, the Japanese. You remember the stoic faces of the suffering Japanese as they stood in food and clothing lines, waiting for emergency supplies after the Tsunami devastated their country last year.
To make sure your body language reflects trust or to increase trust with clients and coworkers, keep these tips in mind:
- Smile naturally -- with your eyes. If you want to know your natural smile, think of a funny story or someone you love. Then take a selfie or ask someone to snap a photo of you when you smile or laugh. You'll notice tiny wrinkles around the eyes. Then do the prom-queen or prom-king fake smile and snap the smile. No eye movement. Sincerity -- and insincerity -- shows. Understand that your client or coworker can tell the difference as well.
Demonstrate trust to gain trust. It's a winning posture -- pun intended.