Words can be very powerful, especially when you’re using them right. Slip these words into your conversations to build trust between friends and coworkers.
“Hi! You’re looking…”
Don’t just give friends and coworkers a simple “How are you?” while you breeze past. Just take a moment to comment on their appearance, whether they look happy, sad, or sick. You’ll probably start a conversation about the weekend plans they’re looking forward to or the sick child they’re taking care of, says Paul Zak, PhD, author of Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies. Instead of making small talk and just being polite, “it’s a much deeper conversation, but people almost always respond well to it,” he says. “It builds that emotional tie.”
“I understand what you’re saying”
Even if you don’t agree with someone else’s points of view, show them you respect their opinion with a phrase like “I appreciate your opinion” instead of trying to change their mind, says Lisa Gueldenzoph Snyder, PhD, professor, and chairperson of the department of business education at North Carolina A&T State University. “Then provide an example that supports their perspective before transitioning the conversation to your perspective,” she says. This way, they won’t feel like you’re criticizing them and will be more open to hearing what you have to say.
“In my opinion…”
When you’re about to share a different opinion, transition between showing you respect them and you want to understand their perspective and your take on the subject. Phrases like “in my opinion” and “others suggest” will make you seem more open to hearing other opinions than “I” statements. “Try to use pronouns that don’t make it one-sided,” Dr. Gueldenzoph Snyder says.
“Immediately saying ‘I think’ puts the focus on you instead of the combined conversation.” Also, you should avoid saying “actually” and “in your opinion,” which will only make the other person feel like they’re wrong.
“How did you think that went?”
When starting a conversation about how someone could get better or improve, let people measure their success by their own standards. By starting with your own judgments could only make the other person not wanting to share more information with you. “Let them decide how successful it was and what they want to talk about,” says Carla Chamberlin-Quinlisk, PhD, professor of applied linguistics, and communication arts and sciences at Pennsylvania State University, Abington. “If you put a judgment on it and ask what they can do better, it puts that person on the defenses.”
“What can I do differently?”
Asking this question lets other people know you’re open to making a change, do better, and not set in old and potentially ineffective ways. In order to have a team mentality, you should prove that you are prepared to make changes when it is needed, an important value in any environment. This is not only an important mentality when helping out a team working to achieve a goal, it also shows that you have the motivation and you want to grow.
“I’m all ears”
Telling someone “I’m all ears” is only the first step, but to really have to follow through to gain someone’s trust. This statement makes people be certain that you’re holding yourself accountable for listening intently when someone is speaking to you. As Inc. suggests, “match your body language to the level of engagement you want to reflect in the conversation and make sure to acknowledge their ideas.”
“Sorry about the traffic”
A study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science showed that participants were quicker to trust people who started a conversation by apologizing for something they weren’t responsible for. They rated a hypothetical Craigslist seller as more trustworthy when the person apologized for the rain rather than made a neutral comment about it or didn’t mention it at all.
“By issuing a superfluous apology, you acknowledge someone else’s misfortune and express sympathy—a benevolent perspective-taking tactic,” says Alison Wood Brooks, PhD, assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and co-author of the study.
“I think you know my friend”
“Whether they look like us, talk like us, or have similar interests, we’re attracted to people who seem familiar”, Dr. Zak says. Finding mutual friends with someone you just met will make you seem more trustworthy, and the other person will know you’re telling the truth by asking that shared connection. “If you’re like us, it’s easier to trust you,” he says. “Finding a shared friend or one person removed is an effective way. It’s always verifiable.”
“That was my fault”
You might think that mistakes will kill your credibility, when in fact, accepting that you were wrong actually builds trust by showing that you’re human and you make mistakes. “People who are imperfect are more attractive to us,” Dr. Zak says. “We like them more than people who seem too perfect.” However, it’s not an easy thing to admit your faults at first, but if you do it enough, your brain will get used to it and you can change your habits, he says.
“Can you give me a hand?”
After you admit that you’ve made a mistake, asking for someone else’s help will make you seem even more trustworthy in the other person’s eyes. A study in the journal Management Science found that participants rated others as more competent when they weren’t afraid to ask for help. This was especially important when the task is difficult, when the advisee seems knowledgeable, and when the volunteer was asked personally. “In our research, we find that people are hesitant to ask for advice because they are afraid they will appear incompetent,” says study author Dr. Wood Brooks. “This fear is misplaced. People view those who seek their advice as more competent than those who do not seek their advice.”
“I trust your judgment”
After you’ve asked others for help, don’t try to control someone who’s trying to help you out. Let them know what needs to be done, then let them execute that plan however they see fit. “Give them control of their lives,” Dr. Zak says. “Autonomy is important. It shows we trust other people.”
“I couldn’t have done it without you”
Giving someone credit is very important, because it shows your gratitude for any help you received, showing others that their contributions are valued. Moreover, no one likes to do a task that they are not appreciated. Also, it’s so simple to show them you understand how helpful they were to you.
By giving someone credit, you are also creating more positive relationships in the future by encouraging the ideas that collaboration and teamwork are important to the success and that those who contribute are held in high regard.