You show empathy through apologies
Apologizing for something you can’t control may be illogical, but it can make you seem more trustworthy. Harvard researchers asked a young man to approach 65 strangers in a large train station on rainy days and ask to borrow a cell phone. Half the time, he started with the superfluous apology: “I’m so sorry about the rain!” before he asked, “Can I borrow your cell phone?” Only 9 percent of people who did not hear the superfluous apology gave him the phone. In comparison, 47 percent of those who received the superfluous apology did. Researchers say offering a superfluous apology portrays empathy and concern for the listener, which increase the listener’s trust in the speaker. Can you guess which are the most trusted brands in America? Click here to see the results of our exclusive survey.
You mirror their body language
Are you a chameleon when you speak to someone? It may pay off. A study in the journal Academy of Management Proceedings found that when MBA students were asked to subtly mirror a partner in a negotiation exercise—for example, resting their elbow on the table if the other individual did—the two reached a deal 67 percent of the time. (The partners did not notice they were being mimicked.) Students who were told not to mirror only reached a deal 12.5 percent of the time. Researchers credit the negotiation successes to interpersonal trust, and say mimicry could help resolve disputes or assist mediators in being more effective.