The surprising news about trust


Next time you’re at a café or on a bus, look around and ask yourself, “Who would I trust here?” You’ve got 1/10th of a second to decide.

If that seems impossible, research from Princeton University suggests otherwise. The study found 373 people looked at pictures of faces and rated their trustworthiness instantly –in milliseconds.

At The Bagg Group, we recognize that it’s nerve-wracking to feel judged so quickly, especially when going into an interview or any high-stake meeting.  For our part, we understand that people who come to our office for the first time can be anxious to make a good impression. We’re skilled at active listening to see past the jitters.

But we have more than 45 years in the people business. We’re experts in getting to know our candidates to make sure placements will be happy– for them, and for our clients. Not everyone out there is a highly-trained Bagg Group recruiter.

There’s no ignoring the evidence that suggests most people assess others in a blink of an eye.

Without even being aware of it, people automatically ask themselves two key questions when they first meet someone, according to the research of Amy Cuddy, a Harvard business professor, social psychologist, and author of the new bestseller, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.

Here are the million dollar questions:

  1. Can I trust this person?picture trust
  2. Can I respect this person?

Most people in the workplace say they feel it’s more important for them to be seen as competent than trustworthy. Wrong!

Amy Cuddy says people want to put competence first for these two reasons:

1 )  We can have a  sense of control over how competent we seem, but not over how trustworthy we appear.  We can measure our competence, we can show it on a resume, we can tick off boxes on a performance record.  We get to be in the driver’s seat.

2)   To be trustworthy and warm is seen as a benefit for others, but not so much for ourselves. Again, wrong!

The research is definitive. If you don’t have a person’s trust, you won’t get the job, or the promotion, or the help of someone you met networking.

  • People will be impressed by your competence only once they believe you’re trustworthy. If you don’t have their trust, your competence won’t matter.

To make the point, a huge 2013 survey of the employees of 51,836 leaders found leaders who rated poorly on traits related to likeability and trust were deemed ineffective.

More recently, CNN polling of voters in the primaries  — to determine each party’s nominee for US president — showed that people decide first on whether  a candidate is trustworthy, honest and caring, and lastly on whether they are electable.

  • Our speed-of-light decision-making about someone’s trustworthiness is primal, we’ve been doing it to keep ourselves safe since the beginning of time:   “It is crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust,” writes Cuddy. “If he doesn’t, we better keep our distance … .” And that’s the thinking we take into our workplace relations.

How to you earn trust? The research offers extraordinary findings

Prepared to be surprised by three facts that come as no surprise to recruiters at Bagg Professional, Bagg @ Your Service, Bagg Technology Resources, Bagg Managed Resources and Turn Key Staffing.

  • You gain instant trust, not by focusing on your relationship with others, but by focusing on your relationship …. with yourself!
  •  Trust happens when people sense you are genuine, authentic.
  •  Without even realizing it, we trust those who know themselves, who are clear on what matters to them, on their own values and beliefs.

We dedicate both effort and time at The Bagg Group to checking in with our own professional and personal values.

Our trustworthiness comes from our living the values of… reliability, honesty, listening, service, and being present when we’re with our clients, candidates and colleagues.

These aren’t just nice concepts for us, they are our identity!   As much as it matters that our clients and candidates respect us, it matters that we respect ourselves. And staying true to who we are is how we do that.

There’s no shortcut.  Socrates said it first when he told his fellow Ancient Greeks to “Know thyself”. Shakespeare picked up the torch when he wrote, “To thine own self be true.”  Now, it’s researchers, and recruiters, who are passing on the wisdom of the sages:   Know yourself so others can sense, in a flash, can feel they know who you really are — and that’s where trust lives.

2 Responses to “The surprising news about trust”

  1. Florine

    Great article! about something which almost goes unnoticed yet so relevant and determining in most of our decisions making whether professional or personal.

    • ghayden

      Hi Florine,
      Thanks very much for your feedback about The Surprising News About Trust. It is greatly appreciated, and we really agree with you –the trust factor is so critical for solidifying all kinds of relationship. Without it, there’s really not much of a relationship at all.
      Gene Hayden
      Author, The Bagg Group Blogs


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