Have you ever met someone and felt like you knew them your entire life?
Whether you really did have a connection or not, the ability to make others trust and feel at ease around you is one of the most important determining factors to success. If you want to make it in the business world, you need to be the one leaving people with a good impression after you meet them.
Some of it comes down to your demeanor like your attitude, body language, and eye contact. A lot of it comes down to how similar your interests are to the other person because "in general, we find that people like other people who are similar to them," says behavioral economist Dan Ariely.
But there is another predictor of trust that may be more convincing than similarities: Creativity.
The more creative you are, the better you will be at convincing others that you are who you tell them you are, says Ariely. You will seem more confident when arguing your thoughts because your creativity allows you to rationalize to yourself that what you’re saying and arguing is the right choice.
This doesn’t mean that all creative people are dishonest with an amazing talent for getting others to trust them. This just means that when we go out and meet people, we are showing them some version of ourselves that we want them to see. If you can convince yourself that this version is the only version of yourself, then you can also convince others that what they’re seeing and hearing is the complete picture, meaning no gimmicks or hidden agendas.
If you can convince people that your business is better than your competitors and that your skills are more exceptional than others around you, you will find that people will want to do business with you.
In Ariely’s book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, he tested the possible link between creativity and dishonesty and what he found was that "the difference between creative and less creative individuals comes into play mostly when there is ambiguity in the situation at hand and, with it, more room for justification."
In other words, when there is an obvious answer or choice, people merely had to choose which side they wanted to be on. But when the question or choices are more ambiguous, the more creative the individual, the better they were at explaining to themselves that the choice they made was the right choice—even if this choice was made solely for selfish gains.
In a business environment, when you are pitching yourself or your idea to others, you need to be sure of whatever you’re selling before you can make others trust you. If you doubt that what you’re saying isn’t the truth, then others will be able to see this doubt.
"[Creativity] helps us think better of ourselves and also makes us believe that what we're doing is actually okay and therefore, make us seem more trustworthy to other people," says Ariely. "So we're becoming more convincing because we can believe it to a higher degree."
"We have some evidence that people can engage in self-deception, which means that they can convince themselves that the truth is actually different from what it really is and the extent that people can convince themselves that the truth is something different, they can also convince other people."
Now that you know what makes people trust you, also know that you, too, can be on the other side of this when meeting someone who is extremely creative. While there is some truth to that good "gut" feeling, there’s also a lot of noise that comes with the signal, says Ariely.
"It turns out our confidence in our gut feeling is much higher than is justified," he says and most of the time, we make choices based on what we already want or prefer so when you have a gut feeling about someone, it’s because you’ve already gone through a process in your mind that you want to like or dislike them.
Instead of making rationalities to come to that conclusion, take the time to get to know them and really listen to what they’re saying—not what you want them to say.
[Image: Flickr user CeBIT Australia]