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Learning Nugget 17 - Creating Presence

People size you up in seconds, but what exactly are they evaluating?

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy has been studying first impressions alongside fellow psychologists Susan Fiske and Peter Glick for more than 15 years, and has discovered patterns in these interactions.

In her new book “Presence,” Cuddy says people quickly answer two questions when they first meet you:

  • Can I trust this person?

  • Can I respect this person?

Psychologists refer to these dimensions as warmth and competence respectively, and ideally you want to be perceived as having both.

Interestingly, Cuddy says that most people, especially in a professional context, believe that competence is the more important factor. After all, they want to prove that they are smart and talented enough to handle your business.

But in fact warmth, or trustworthiness, is the most important factor in how people evaluate you. “From an evolutionary perspective,” Cuddy says, “it is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust.” It makes sense when you consider that in cavemen days it was more important to figure out if your fellow man was going to murder you and steal all your possessions than if he was competent enough to build a good fire.

While competence is highly valued, Cuddy says it is evaluated only after trust is established. And focusing too much on displaying your strength can backfire.

“If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative,” Cuddy says. “A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you’ve established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat.”

In the BOLD AIM workshops we explored a definition of trust, which interestingly we defined as Sincerity + Competency.

Other common business relationship based definitions include confidence in the honesty and/or integrity of a person,

Another is Trust = ability + benevolence + integrity… or some variation thereof. This formula, proposed Mayer, Davis & Schoorman in 1995

In fact here is a wonderful 10 min read on trust and it’s role in business relationships for those looking for extra learning opportunity.

So what are some common tips we can apply to consciously build trust, especially as we seek to form new relationships outside of IT ?

First and most appropriate, Keith Ferrazi’s work in this area is exceptional. For those not yet fortunate enough to be exposed to his teachings, here’s a wonderful short (3 min) video to get you started.

Keith really underpins his message with some core concepts;

  • To have great trusting relationships with clients you must first do so internally in your teams, especially virtual teams

  • There is no trust without empathy. Consider this. Empathy. If you get up each morning believing your job is to sell Verizon’s stuff, how empathetic will you be to your clients, especially those in “the business” ? But would that be different if your belief system was “my clients deserve better business outcomes from their technology investments”

  • Empathy is foster most in tribes. Tribes both internally (see point 1) and those with clients

There’s plenty of other reading on building trust, Google is your friend, but one final one I found valuable in considering this important topic;

1. Be transparent

2. Be sincere

3. Focus on adding value

4. Be present (Active listening – see Nugget 16)

5. Always treat people with respect

6. Take responsibility

7. Give and take feedback

8. Take criticism well

9. Set boundaries

10. Hold yourself to a higher a standard

11. Your word is your bond

12. Be consistent

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