It’s no secret that making a good first impression can go a long way. But aside from a smile and a firm handshake, you need one key trait to truly nail that initial meet-and-greet. We’ll give you a hint: Most people pay attention to what you say, not what you do.
A 2014 study, conducted by researchers from the University of Glasgow and Princeton University, revealed that the tone of a person’s voice can indicate whether or not they are trustworthy. (Here’s how to use body language to build trust, too.) The researchers asked 320 subjects to listen to 64 different people say the word “hello” and rate them based on one of 10 personality traits. Turns out, the participants generally agreed on which voices were trustworthy and which were not—even though the voices played for less than a second.
To find out why this was the case, the team designed a new study, which was published this year. A computer voice model imitated the acoustical traits of the voices that the 2014 participants had rated as most and least trustworthy. Then, 500 more people listened to the recordings online and rated how trustworthy they were on a scale of 1 to 7. (Try the test for yourself here!)
This is what the findings revealed: Voices that “have personality” and inflection are consistently perceived as more trustworthy than those that do not. While the audio clips rated as “most trustworthy” offered varied tones, the least trustworthy ones remained mostly flat. Find out more subtle habits you have that make people trust you.
“It is amazing that from such short bursts of speech you can get such a definite impression of a person,” co-author Phil McAleer told Science. “And that, irrespective of whether it is accurate, your impression is the same as what the other listeners get.”
Pair your tone with these magic phrases, and you can make anyone trust you—guaranteed.