Whether you are networking with other business professionals, making contacts with potential clients, or simply strengthening relationships with colleagues, being open, honest, and trustworthy is crucial. Clearly the first step to being perceived as being honest and trustworthy is actually being honest and trustworthy. Continually conducting your business practices in an open manner and following through on your word is certainly critical in earning the trust of your peers. However, it is also vital that you appear trustworthy as well. And this is where body language comes in. How can body language help others perceive you as honest?
Watch Your Arms and Legs: When trying to build rapport with someone, avoid crossing your arms or legs. A closed body posture makes it appear as though you have something to hide, closing off your body with your limbs to form a shield. However, many people simply adopt this posture when uncomfortable or nervous. Crossing your arms also prohibits you from gesturing during a conversation, a natural way to connect and build rapport. Take note of your personal habits, and if you find you’re someone who naturally closes off their body when nervous, make a conscious effort to break the habit.
Eye Contact: Most people believe that when someone is avoiding eye contact, they have something to hide. But using eye contact to build trust goes beyond simply meeting the gaze of your conversation partner. How you meet their gaze can also play a large part in how trustworthy you are perceived. Avoid staring or meeting your listener’s gaze too intently. Overly intense eye contact can signal that you’re uncomfortable and consciously putting effort into hiding something. Try to maintain natural eye contact by meeting your partner’s gaze for roughly five seconds at a time, and then momentarily allowing your eyes to shift to the side before immediately returning to your partner’s gaze.
Next week we’ll continue with more ways that you can utilize body language to build trust in professional relationships.
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