An FBI Behaviour Expert Explains How to Quickly Build Trust With Anyone

It’s not always about you!

Thomas Oppong
Aug 16 · 4 min read

Trust is one of the most valuable currencies among humans. Without it you can’t build better relationships with anyone.

Trust is a bilateral relationship. Trust is why people get married. Trust is the reason you pay for expensive services knowing that you will get good value for your money.

“There are two dimensions to how people make trust decisions. There is a preconscious, automatic decision to trust. And then there is a conscious, slow decision to trust,” says Robert Hurley, a professor of management at Fordham University and the author of The Decision to Trust.

No matter what you want to achieve in life, building trust from other people will be a big part of your success. The process of gaining trust and understanding with anyone takes time, but a single action can ruin any relationship you’ve built over a period of time.

Here is a simple truth about humans you should keep in mind — we are all wired for connection, we care deeply about ourselves, we want to feel important, and we like and trust familiar things. These ideas are the basic foundation for building rapport with just about anyone.

Robin Dreeke is the Founder of People Formula, Former Head of FBI Behavioral Analysis Program. The FBI process includes research into social and evolutionary psychology, which has been honed from years of field experience.

Throughout his life, Robin has received advanced training and experience in the area of social psychology and the practical application of the science behind relationship development.

In his book It’s Not All About “Me”: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone, he reveals that establishing artificial time constraints is the best approach to start a conversation with a stranger.

When you approach someone to start a conversation most people assess the situation for threat before anything else. Discomfort in any conversation with a stranger happens because there is no end in sight says Dreeke. He explains:

…the first step in the process of developing great rapport and having great conversations is letting the other person know that there is an end in sight, and it is really close.

Once you have dealt with the awkwardness of starting a conversation and established clearly that you don’t intend to take all their time, you want to look non-threatening. The best nonverbal technique you can use to look more accommodating is to smile.

You could even match the other person’s posture, speech, etc. because our subconscious naturally picks up on and likes familiarity.

If you don’t feel comfortable using this approach to start a conversation, you can test the strength of your rapport by changing your body language and observe whether the other person’s body language follows yours. Matching and mirroring are about being in tune with the other. Dreeke argues:

When you walk into a room with a bunch of strangers, are you naturally drawn to those who look angry and upset or those with smiles and laughing? Smiling is the number one nonverbal technique you should utilize to look more accommodating.

You can also project confidence in a conversation by making eye contact for about 60 to 70 percent of your interaction with someone. Studies show upon meeting someone, we’re looking for evidence of confidence.

If you want to sound more credible, once you begin speaking, speak slowly. People who speak fast are usually very excited about what they are talking about. It could also mean you know your subject. Speaking slowly, however, gives you more credibility. In It’s Not All About “Me”: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone, Dreeke writes:

Whenever I have a conversation that I believe is important for me to be credible in my content, I purposely slow down the delivery and take pauses for people to absorb the content of what I have just said.

Just listen. Listening is the simplest way to validate others. You don’t need to tell your story; just encourage them to keep telling theirs. Make them feel important. For most of us, our natural reaction is to interrupt, but it also means that we are never fully present when someone is talking.

Hold back from interrupting or overriding with your own points, thoughts and ideas. Dreeke says, suspend your ego.

Suspending your ego is nothing more complex than putting other individuals’ wants, needs, and perceptions of reality ahead of your own. Most times, when two individuals engage in a conversation, each patiently waits for the other person to be done with whatever story he or she is telling.

A great conversationalist encourages others to talk about themselves, neglecting their own need to share their great stories. In our louder and louder world, says sound expert Julian Treasure, “We are losing our listening.” He recommends an approach he calls ‘RASA’ — receive, appreciate, summarise and ask. He says the art of conversation is being replaced — dangerously — by personal broadcasting.

“True validation coupled with ego suspension means that you have no story to offer, that you are there simply to hear theirs,” says Dreeke.

Be curious and ask open-ended questions. If you’re really listening, this should be pretty easy. “Once the individual being targeted in the conversation supplies more words and thought, a great conversationalist will utilize the content given and continue to ask open-ended questions about the same content” argues Dreeke.

People who ask more questions, and specifically follow-up questions, during a conversation, are perceived as more likeable, according to a Harvard University research.

You’ll never get a second chance to make a great first impression with people you meet. So with the few minutes to spare to get someone on your side, make the most it. And always remember, the right attitude is everything. Make sure the other person walks away better for having met you.

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

Thomas Oppong

Written by

Founder at AllTopStartups | Author | Creator of Thinking in Models and Kaizen Habits | Featured at Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, Forbes, Entrepreneur, etc.

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

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