The Foundations of Trust: Rapport, Warmth, and Equality

Building trust relies on three fundamental elements: rapport, warmth, and equality. Developing rapport through non-task communication, showcasing warmth through concern and personal connections, and treating others as equals all contribute to the cultivation of trust. By embracing these principles, we pave the way for more meaningful and trustworthy relationships.

Josh Ether

9/6/20192 min read

In our journey of building trust, three crucial elements come to the forefront: rapport, warmth, and equality. Let's explore how these factors contribute to fostering trust.

Consider the case of homicide detective Marshall Frank, who faced the daunting task of obtaining a confession from a murder suspect, Paul Rowles. Despite the potential consequences, Detective Frank managed to elicit a confession within just 30 minutes. The key to his success lay in building rapport. Rather than treating Rowles as a criminal, Frank approached him as a friend. He engaged in non-task communication, discussing topics unrelated to the murder, such as family and life in general. By creating a sense of friendship and trust, Frank paved the way for Rowles to open up and cooperate.

Building rapport involves engaging in non-task communication, such as discussing local events, inquiring about family and friends, or sharing hobbies and interests. By focusing on interpersonal connections before delving into business matters, we establish a foundation of trust that facilitates future collaboration. Sharing meals or attending events together further strengthens rapport and nurtures trust.

Let's turn to the story of Ron Klein, a political newcomer challenging a seasoned incumbent, Clay Shaw, in Florida's 22nd district. Klein, perceived as competent but cold, faced a significant challenge in connecting with voters. Through consultation, he discovered the importance of projecting both competence and warmth. During practice TV interviews, Klein realized that his lack of smiles made him appear aloof. To establish a connection with voters, he began his stump speeches by sharing personal stories about his family, subsequently transitioning to key policy issues. This approach allowed Klein to demonstrate warmth, making him more likable and trusted.

The significance of warmth and rapport extends to influential figures, including U.S. presidents. Since the advent of television, every president has brought a dog into the White House, regardless of personal circumstances. The presence of a dog symbolizes warmth and approachability, complementing the perceived competence of a leader. Spending time with loved ones, sharing personal stories, and engaging in activities that demonstrate concern for others contribute to projecting warmth and building trust.

Lastly, equality plays a vital role in establishing trust. Showing respect for others' time and avoiding actions that accentuate differences communicates a sense of equality and benevolence. Treating others as equal partners fosters trust, as it demonstrates both care and fairness.