How To Win Trust And Influence People

How important is trust to your chances of winning your next project?

Princeton psychologists Janine Willis & Alexander Todorov discovered that it takes a 1/10 of a second to form an impression of trust. Longer exposure does not significantly alter those impressions.

Is this little-known research important to know when selling architecture services? Ahhh, YES.

Superficial impressions determine whether you have a project to work on next month or not. That is why you have lost projects you should have won.

Little things that really should NOT matter DO.

I know you understand this in your design
…But now you need to consider it in yourself.

Let me explain.

My wife and I took our kids to Cirque du Soleil at the MGM Grand recently to see the ‘Ka’ warriors show.

WOW seriously WOW.

I am no art or dance buff. I tend to fall asleep in most shows, which is really annoying, but this was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.

Words cannot describe the action but here’s a woeful attempt anyway.

The first scene attacks the senses. Warriors are flying above the audience on ropes making war cries. Arrows are flying and you are hit with visual, emotional and auditory sensations from the first seconds of the show.

Then imagine a stage, which sometimes goes vertical and everyone carries on with the fights without harnesses or support. Seeing is believing.

This got me thinking.

For example, each costume infused the character with their power, status and persona. In one tenth of a second, I can tell if the character is a warrior or an emperor or a common villager.

Isn’t it funny how costumes can reveal our power status or character?

This got me thinking about my two daughters who shopped the Vegas Outlet stores like little warriors.

The clothes they have purchased have transformed their confidence. They feel more grown up and attractive and I must admit I am starting to look at them differently. Claudia is 15 and Holly is 11.

Clothes maketh the man and the woman.

My first sales manager told me that my sales took off once I had purchased my expensive suit. Either I was more confident or people treated me differently.

Probably both.

I have to think about the clothes I wear when meeting potential clients for the first time. Research tells us clearly that certain ‘costumes’ outsell others. A suit will outsell casual clothes and a red tie increases sales by 30%.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Blink’ also describes “thin-slicing” as the mind's tendency to make decisions from a very narrow period of experience.

Your facial expression and your clothes are your costumes – they tell your story and build your character.

Remember the Janine Willis & Alexander Todorov research taught us that people DO judge instantly.

Only a fraction of a second to form an impression of trust. Longer exposure does not significantly alter those impressions.

You design the entrance of a building for the same reason. First impressions count.

Have you designed, choreographed and rehearsed your character entrance for your potential client's first glimpse like Cirque du Soleil did?

Here are 5 questions to get you started:

  1. What story does the first 1/10 of a second say about you?
  2. What expression do you wear?
  3. What does your costume to say about your character?
  4. Does what you wear support the character you want to portray or does it compromise you?
  5. Have you strategically choreographed yourself to the same level of detail and drama that you would design a stunning entrance to a building?
  6. If you did what brief would you give yourself for your entrance?

Hope this helps.

Richard Petrie

P.S. Remember it is the superficial things that count most in the first fraction of a second.

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