/

How to win trust at work

Do you know how you are perceived at work? Here's how to up your warmth and competence factor

by Suzy Walker

how to win trust at work

The benefits of projecting trustworthiness at work are enormous, says Heidi Grant Halvorson, social psychologist. Studies show when teams trust their co-workers and managers, there is a significant drop in staff turnover and stress, and greater job satisfaction.

Studies suggest others want to establish: do you have good intentions towards them and do you have what it takes to act on those intentions?

Perceptions of warmth and competence account for 90 per cent of the variability in whether you are perceived positively or negatively by others.

Here’s how to up your warmth and competence factor, according to Halvorson:

Showing warmth

  • Give compliments, perform favours, show interest in others’ thoughts and feelings. Display kindness, sincerity, empathy and friendliness and show that you value others as much, if not more, than yourself.
  • Pay attention. Eye contact, nodding and smiling are three key indicators of warmth.
  • Apologise. ‘Superfluous apologies’, apologising for something you clearly can’t control, for example, ‘I’m sorry about the rain’, produces tangible increases in trust.

Conveying competence

  • Research shows that people won’t trust you when you seem to have a willpower problem. Do what you can to keep your self-control issues private.
  • Be humble. If you exhibit modesty in respect to your skills and ability, people will add on an average 20 to 30 per cent to their estimate of your competence.
  • Emphasise your potential. Studies show we prefer to hire those with potential over a proven record so focus on the future pitch rather than showcasing past triumphs.

No One Understands You And What to Do About It by Heidi Grant Halvorson (Harvard Business Review, £14.99)

Photograph: Corbis