How to be trusted instantly – 4 vital tactics

trust building tactics

People buy from people they like and trust - so the more you work on building rapport and trust, the more clients you gain - simple... but how do you do it? 

A strong rapport usually means that people will be more open to the ideas, suggestions, and solutions we present.’ Dale Carnegie 

Read on -

4 tactics that build trust in 5 minutes -

up to you to keep it of course!

Q: Doesn't trust take ages to create?

No.  It can be made and broken very quickly. I would put a bet on you having experienced the sense of losing trust in someone (or a company) in an instant - am I right? How about when you found out a big company you had regularly bought from was exposed for tax dodging - or mistreating staff ...  that trust was gone in a heartbeat wasn't it?

Same applies to feeling you trust someone - you can feel it very soon after the initial 'hello'... think about it.

So - why? What makes one meeting give you that warm relaxed trusting vibe and another get all your defence systems operating at full throttle...

What leads us to feel trust?

Rapport - quick intro

To feel trust you need to be 'in rapport' - so this is where the tactics put into action right up front - in order to create the trust. These 4 tactics are classic, proven, simple and very effective rapport building tactics - do not leave any of them out. 

Rapport is often considered to be something other people create by casting a mysterious spell. I would argue that, like many skills, it is not magic but it needs learning and putting into practice repeatedly - you get better at it.

Let's start from the end product -

what does it feel like when rapport has been established? 

When you are in rapport you feel

  • relaxed – like listening to a radio that is properly tuned-in rather than crackly or having 4 bars of mobile phone reception
  • able to reach deeper levels of communication 
  • more able to ask exploratory questions 
  • that regardless of whether the person has all the answers - they are the right person to work with on finding those answers.
  • that you are being you

​The business benefits of building rapport

  • You get the client. You are not the only one offering the service or product - so the difference is rapport - that is why they came to you.
  • When you ‘have rapport’ you are more likely to trust that person and enjoy being with that person. You are also more likely to give and receive help and input.
  • You get spoken about in positive ways - the trust factor is spread

Here are the 4 tactics - in this order

  1. Be prepared
  2. Ditch the judgement
  3. Make the right impression
  4. Listen a lot


In these days of social media and google it is crazy not to do a little harmless stalking! You do not have to delve far to find out something that will help with rapport building. You are looking for:

  • Common links
  • a sense of their 'vibe' - values, interests, beliefs, energy
  • work ethic
  • any out of work hobbies 
  • their friend group
  • business detail

People like those who are like them. It is the job of you, the detective, to actively listen and watch in order to uncover those similarities. Maybe you both like hockey or watch the same news station. When those common interests are brought to the surface, there is instant rapport—they like you and you like them—and there is no better environment in which to do business than one in which you like each other.’ Robert Cialdini

WARNING – this is not about actually saying something to the person about anything you have seen – it is just about gaining a bit of a profile that informs elements of your approach and conversation. I am not suggesting you go to the lengths of a police detective building a psychological profile – just skim the surface a little.

Extra tip!

  • When a person uses exclamation marks, emoji and humour in their online presence – you can go to first contact with a careful use of that ‘tone’.
  • When a person has a highly organised, detailed, neat, fact filled and slightly ‘dry’ online presence – have a more ‘cautious’ or ‘formal’ tone in the initial contact stage.


 “it would be interesting to find out what goes on in that moment when someone looks at you and draws all sorts of conclusions.”  Yes - I agree with Malcolm Gladwell

People judge people

Our brains are wired perfectly for bias. Why? We needed to make very quick judgements about whether a person was friend or foe for survival purposes. There wasn't always time to explore the more nuanced aspects of a person’s character and personality. 

  • ‘Ah- I know – this is one of those types of people (like me) – so all is well and we can continue to get to know each other.’
  •  ‘Whoa! This is one of those types of people (not like me) – run.’

Instant judgements are sometimes of value (I know I shouldn’t snuggle up to a dog that is frothing at the mouth) - good - but often an unhelpful block to open rapport building conversation. (My ‘ex’ used to talk like that – I can tell what kind of a person this guy is straight away)- not good.

Extra Tip!

Be prepared to have your opinion confounded – that’s the fun bit.


  • Look right – even if you don’t like the principal of it mattering!  You are a free spirit – an individual – ‘don’t label me’!  Well – bad news I’m afraid – you might have to compromise. If your natural style is not an obvious ‘fit’ to the other person/people. Adapt - do not mimic. You can still be YOU – just a version of you that works best for that moment.  Other than when you are at home and off duty - you are ‘on-show’ and need to be aware of the image you are projecting.

An aside: I am a real groupie of a guy called Erving Goffman. He was a rock star in the communication world in my opinion.  I am ‘bias’ due to my personal background as an actor, however I think you will get something from his work if you take a read.  He came up with a model called ‘dramaturgy’. His book on this subject was called ‘Presentation of Self.’ To put it briefly, he compared us all to actors with our ‘on’ and ‘off’ stage versions of ourselves. Read it – it’s a bit more detailed than that. 

  • Be agreeable. Agreeing with people’s opinions is an instant point scorer. People like to feel they are with similar people. Don’t be a ‘yes’ person though – find some small points to give a different perspective on.
  • Be modest. A bit of self-deprecation can be a brilliant way of breaking the ice and bringing people closer. Choose the moments wisely – make fun of yourself or put yourself down on areas that are not important to your credentials.
  • Don’t be needy.  Avoid strategies which appear to make you weak or desperate for approval.
  • Connect yourself to the ‘good and great’. Dropping in associations with likeable or much admired people or groups will reflect well on you – just be sure to make it throwaway not obvious!
  • Smile – genuine smile that is. Smile through the eyes.
  • Look clean and well groomed. You might be casual if that is the correct ‘vibe’ –but you still need to avoid dog hairs, dandruff, dirty nails, scuffed shoes, missing buttons…… you get the gist.

If you have done your research you might avoid first impression pitfalls.  You might avoid the mistake of dressing casual and coming face to face with a formal suit situation. You might avoid making a careless passing comment about the area only to discover it is where that other person was born and bred. These are daft traps to fall into – don’t!


Guy Browning on listening: ‘We all think we listen, but we don’t’ We’re either waiting for a pause in the conversation so we can start talking again, or we’re pretending to listen... Be a radiator, not a drain’.

Carl Rogers on listening : ‘Man’s inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively, skilfully and with understanding to another person.’ 

‘and as James Borg observes - 'Interest is flattering.’ 

What are the extras you need to bring to the act of listening?

  • Commit. Make a conscious decision to really listen.
  • Stop thinking about what YOU want to say when they stop.
  • Allow at least 5 seconds of pause after you think they have finished their point.
  • Check for understanding. ‘So - are you saying that…’  ‘
  • Eye contact and body language that leans in (not in a creepy way.)
  • Make small comments that don’t interrupt but show appreciation.

If the other person is a slow talker, repeat their words in your head to fill the space in your head. We listen a lot faster than we talk.

Why is listening vital to rapport and trust building?

  • Listening to someone in a really focused way makes them feel special. If someone feels special they are in rapport with you – and that is the start of trust – and they will be happy to listen to you (and that means you can influence them nicely!). 
  • When you listen – really listen – you hear things that you might otherwise miss.  You notice the subtleties of the other person’s language style, the metaphors they use, the turns of phrases that might suggest if they are an auditory, visual or kin-aesthetic type (NLP – many books on this.)
  • You hear some nugget of detail that allows you to find a link – commonality is another rapport building tactic.

Just one more listening quote:

‘You’ve heard about people who talk too much. You never heard about a person who listens too much.’ Andrew Sobel.

So - that is how trust is built quickly.

We are not talking about – ‘I would trust her with my life’ or ‘blood brothers’ type of trust.

When you feel this trust it feels good doesn't it?

You would not give this person our bank details there and then or tell them about a dark secret from your past.  
You do however feel relaxed enough to be open and curious.
Because you have been listened too you have a sense that you have been understood.

You are in all the right place to be open to hearing about what it is they want to say – not because you are obliged to but because you wish to – not because you think they are going to sell you something - but because you want to hear about this thing that might be of real value to you.  You are happy to have them influence you.

Imagine if you just made your prospect feel like that...

Rapport – Trust – Influence. 

One place you need to use your instant trust building rapport skills is at a networking event - just one of the ingredients of 'making networking work' for you.  So get even more equipped by downloading this free guide - before you go to another networking event!

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Trisha Lewis

I help people become more effective communicators through the kind of coaching that offers a safe space to explore and rehearse and better understand the impact they have. My blog is full of insights and tactics that will help you break down the barriers that prevent you from being a truly effective communicator. These insights are based on my own experience as well as the issues raised during coaching sessions and workshops.