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2 vital ways to build trust

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The best leaders engender trust. They come across as straight shooters who seem comfortable in their own skin and who exercise judiciousness in their relationships.

If you want others to perceive you as trustworthy, start by reassuring them that you possess high levels of competence and empathy. When people believe that you have the ability to follow through on your promises—and they’re convinced you have their best interests at heart—they’re more apt to trust you.

Look for opportunities to make simple promises and deliver on them. You’ll gain trust by establishing a track record of fulfilling your stated commitments. At the same time, radiate warmth. Focus on others’ hopes and fears. Ask lots of questions to indicate your curiosity and eagerness to forge a bond.

If you dominate the conversation and talk too much about yourself, you undermine your trust-building efforts. People will come away thinking, “I don’t think that person understands where I’m coming from.”

Another way to exhibit your concern for others is to respond with appropriate emotion when they open up. Express sympathy for hardships they’ve endured. Invite them to share more of their feelings if they’re beset by a recent loss.  

Beware: If you possess one trait but not the other (say, you seem highly competent but lack warmth or concern for someone’s best interests), you won’t instill as much trust. So do what you say you’ll do and showcase your empathetic understanding of what matters to others.

— Adapted from “The Type You Can Count On,” Matt Huston, Psychology Today.

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