What makes someone trust another person

With this psychological trick you get people to trust you immediately

It is widely believed that trust must grow slowly and gradually be built - and that the only people to whom we would trust personal things about ourselves are family members and very close friends who we have known for years.

However, the two psychologists Maurice Schweitzer and Adam Galinsky reveal in their book “Friend and Foe” that there is a kind of scientific formula for how we can get someone to trust us very quickly.

That sounds weird than it really is. The trick is simply to exude a balance between warmth and competence - that makes you look both believable and human.

The idea comes from Elliot Aronson, who found out in a study that minor weaknesses make people appear much more likable. For his study, he showed male college students application videos from fellow students who allegedly wanted to join the college quiz bowl team. Some of the candidates impressed the study participants directly, others less so. Some of the applicants also spilled coffee on their clothes.

The results of the research showed that the students preferred the impressive candidates to the less impressive. But they liked even more those of the formidable who had spilled coffee on them.

To show how this theory works in the real world, the authors cite the way psychiatrists deal with their patients as an example. Their job is above all to get strangers to reveal their greatest fears and insecurities to them.

A psychiatrist will always use one of the following three tactics when meeting a new patient: dropping a pen, telling a really bad joke, or spilling his coffee.

Presumably the patients were already impressed by the diplomas on the psychiatrist's wall, which clearly demonstrated his competence. But what he still had to do now was show that he, too, is an approachable, normal person with small flaws. This combination of competence and humanity automatically made him more trustworthy.

Showing small weaknesses makes you likeable and trustworthy

The tactic works just as well on the job.

The book authors cite an American engineer who worked for a company in Japan as an example. He was annoyed because he was always treated like a visitor at the meetings. But after he went to karaoke with his colleagues, they listened to him just as much as any of the other employees.

What the authors want is that very competent people appear more accessible and trustworthy if they act a little clumsy and prove that they don't take themselves too seriously. That makes them look more vulnerable and human.

"The effectiveness of this strategy refutes the assumption that trust can only be built up over a long period of time and very slowly," write the two psychologists. "By making yourself vulnerable and approachable, you get people to trust you faster than it takes to mop up a spilled coffee."

However, you have to be careful: it is important first to prove your competence before you show weakness - otherwise the formula will not work.

In addition, you should under no circumstances reveal weaknesses that undermine your competence. For example, a surgeon would rather not drop his instruments.

In summary: If you want to get people to trust you, then first impress them with your skills and then show them that you are just as human and afflicted with small weaknesses as they are. This is not manipulative and in no way sneaky - you show people your abilities and your personality only at a glance. Ultimately, that gives them the opportunity to open up to you.