Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

5 Body Language Basics That Make You Appear 100% More Trustworthy to Strangers

Whether it’s in the business world or in personal relations, there is one thing that we all need to get along and be successful: trust. We all strive to have people trust us, but the truth is that it is often hard to build. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to instantly appear more trustworthy. Here are five body language secrets to help you earn people’s trust.

1. Make Eye Contact

The first thing you want to remember when building trust is to keep eye contact. Eye contact is one of those things we subconsciously take note of every time we meet a person. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a person who was constantly shuffling around and looking in different directions? Sporadic eye contact communicates a lack of interest, distraction, and even dishonesty. Whenever you’re speaking, be sure to keep good, steady eye contact.

2. Stand Tall

One question you should ask yourself if you’re working toward any sort of leadership position: How are you holding your shoulders? The language of your posture carries more weight than you might assume. A stooped position and sagging shoulders communicates either a lack of confidence or just a lack of effort. If you want others to see you as confident and capable, stand tall and keep your shoulders back.

3. Maintain Open Arms

When it comes to your arms, remember to maintain an open posture. Holding your arms stiff or keeping them clasped behind your back will come off as pretentious, while crossing them over your chest may be threatening. If you must cross your arms, keep your posture loose and open. This will make you look more inviting, and give people more reason to trust you.

4. Give Yourself a Hand

Often, people just don’t know what to do with their hands. Nail-biting, thumb-twiddling, and finger-fidgeting are all outward signs of nervousness and anxiety. Avoid that. Keeping your hands in front of you, gesturing, and holding your hands in a comfortable, casual way is best. Another thing to keep in mind is your handshake. Your handshake should be firm, but not crushing, and be sure to look the other person in the eye; a second of eye contact and a smile along with your handshake will do wonders for building trust.

5. Be the Person’s Mirror

Probably the single best way to build trust is to let the other person know you understand what he or she is attempting to convey. When listening to another person, practice “mirroring” her emotions: nod to show interest, smile when she talks about good news, frown when she talks about bad news. Make sure that you are empathetic and engaged when listening to anyone; besides learning something from others and showing respect, you’ll be demonstrating that you’re both a genuine person and worthy of their trust.

More From Inc.

Photo of women having conversation courtesy of Shutterstock.