15 Magic Phrases to Make Anyone Trust You
Slip these words into your conversations to build trust between friends and coworkers.
“Hi! You’re looking…”
Don’t just give friends and coworkers an upnod or an insincere “How are you?” while you breeze past. Pause and take a moment to comment on their appearance, whether they look happy, sad, or sick. You’ll probably spark 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, “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 disagree with someone’s views, show them you respect their beliefs with a phrase like “I appreciate your opinion” before 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’ll feel less criticized and will be more open to trusting what you have to say. On the other hand, these are the phrases that make an argument worse.
“In my opinion…”
When you’re about to share that dissenting opinion, transition between showing you want to understand the other perspective and your take on the subject. Phrases like “in my opinion” and “others suggest” make you seem more open to 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 avoid saying “actually” and “in your opinion,” which imply the other person is wrong. Said the wrong thing? Make sure you know these phrases that can save an awkward conversation.
“How did you think that went?”
When starting a conversation about how someone could improve, let people gauge their success by their own standards. Starting with your own judgments could make the other person clam up and share less information. “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.” Here are 16 smart ways to get your boss to trust you.
“What can I do differently?”
Asking this lets others know you’re open to positive change and not set in old and potentially ineffective ways. In order to foster a team mentality, you should show that you are willing to make changes to help others out when needed, a critical value in any environment. Not only can this mentality help out a team working to achieve a goal, it also shows that you possess the motivation for self-development.
“I’m all ears”
Telling someone “I’m all ears” is the first step, but to really make this effective you have to follow through. This statement ensures 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. These are the habits that good listeners practice.
“Sorry about the traffic”
A study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found 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. Establishing mutual friends with someone you just met will instantly make you seem more trustworthy. That 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.” Here’s how to make a good first impression.
“That was my fault”
You might think mistakes will kill your credibility, but accepting your shortcomings actually builds trust by showing that you’re human. “People who are imperfect are more attractive to us,” Dr. Zak says. “We like them more than people who seem too perfect.” It might be hard to admit to 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. Here’s what science says about forgiveness.
“This is my side…”
By starting out with this phrase, you are signaling to others that you acknowledge that their thoughts and feelings are just as valid as yours, and that you have an awareness of the fact that they may have perceived things differently than you. It’s important to keep calm during a conflict and make the effort to properly resolve it for others to be confident in their trust in you, and saying this invites others to share what is on their minds—respectfully.