The word Ubiquitous means “everywhere at the same time.” It comes from the Latin root ubiq, which means everywhere. It was originally a theological expression used to describe the omnipresence of Christ.
I maintain that trust is ubiquitous, because it is all around us every day, like the air we breathe.
Trust is manifest in all aspects of life, not just in our relations with other people. We normally think of trust as between our self and other people, but consider any product that you use and recognize that you have a relationship of trust to some degree, or you would not use it.
In the pills you take
For example, you cannot take an aspirin if you do not trust the company that made it and the store that sold it to you.
In the car you drive
When you get in your car in the morning and turn on the ignition, there are thousands of explosions going on within the engine, but you are not thinking about that unless the “check engine” light comes on. When you come to a red light you step on the brake and the car stops. The only time you think about it is when the brakes squeak or otherwise let you know they need attention.
In your personal routines
You walk into the bathroom in the morning and flip the switch. The lights go on. You turn on the spigot and both hot and cold water come out. You turn on the TV and the news comes on. You just expect these things to work, so there is no recognition of anything going on unless for some reason the lights do not go on.
You pour yourself some cereal and get out the milk. You are not conscious of any trust validation going on. You just expect things to be OK unless you neglected to check the dating on the carton of milk.
On your way to your destination
You drive along and follow the traffic rules. You have no worry that other people will fail to follow the rules (at least most of the time).
You drive over a bridge without worrying about it falling into the river (except there are probably some bridges where you should worry, at least a little bit.)
Trust is ubiquitous
I contend that by the time you have yourself up and going in the morning, you have experienced trust several hundred times, but you don’t think about it unless there is some kind of failure. Trust is all around us every single day, but in our conscious thoughts it is the trust we have between individuals that draws nearly all of our attention.
Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 1000 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations
Ideally, body language should be a natural form of communication that is mostly unconscious. Some people put too much energy into their body language, and it comes across as insincere and phony.
When you try to impress people with overt gestures, they will often become suspicious, and it lowers trust between yourself and other people. I will describe how overdone body language impacts us in a couple areas, starting with the entertainment world.
Consider the movie, “Dumb and Dumber.” The two principle characters (played by Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels) constantly overdid their gestures and body language to the point where it became laughable. Actually, by the time the movie was half over, I was already tired of the humor.
When you think about it, many comedians make their living out of exaggerating gestures to the point of absurdity. A good example would be Kramer on the Jerry Seinfeld program. The phenomenon is not confined to the entertainment industry, it can occur in our professional and family lives.
Professional and Family
In the real world, overacting will get you into trouble because whenever you are forcing gestures, you are subject to sending mixed signals. Even if you try to have all your body language in the same direction, you run a high risk of confusing people. In doing so, trust is compromised.
You know some people in your professional circles who have broad sweeping gestures trying to make an impact. We also can experience some family members that use exaggerated body movements to punctuate drama. This tendency is also seen in some meeting environments where the stakes are particularly high.
Be your authentic self as much of the time as you can and let your body language flow naturally. Trying to force gestures in order to impress others or create some specific reaction in them, you inevitably sacrifice your own credibility.
How to Improve
One way you can hone your skill at using only natural and free-flowing gestures is to be a conscious observer of other people at all times. Look for signs of inconsistency in body language. As you become more adept at spotting the problem in others, you will naturally tend to do it less in your own case.
Try to catch yourself in the act of putting on a show in order to drive a specific reaction. Then block yourself from making the false signal. If you do it well and prevent yourself from sending mixed signals, then praise yourself for the growth you are experiencing.
Another way to grow in this dimension is to ask someone who is close to you to point out when you are being incongruent. Be sure to reinforce the person for sharing his or her reaction so you encourage more of that kind of candor in the future.
Studying Emotional Intelligence is another way to become more consistent. As we gain more knowledge of our own feelings and emotions, we can begin to see opportunities to modify our appearance to be indicative of how we are really feeling.
Overacting is a common problem in our society at all levels. Work to become more aware of any possible mixed signals you might be sending, and you will enhance the level of trust you experience with others.
This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language” by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.”
Mirroring in body language means that one person mimics the movements of the other person while they are in dialog.
Usually mirroring happens unconsciously, but if you are paying attention and looking for it, you can gain some important insights whether you are in discussions with an employee, negotiating a big deal, or even trying to get through to your kids.
In general, when a person mirrors the body language of another individual, it means there is a positive bond between the two people, at least on the topic currently being discussed. If you are chatting with another person and his hands are folded on the table, see if yours are folded as well.
According to George MacDonald in his blog for coaches, mirroring and matching are techniques widely used in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP, an interpersonal communication model created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s.
The idea is that people feel most comfortable around those people who are like them – they feel that their point of view is understood. The more someone believes you are like them, the easier it is to develop trust and rapport at the unconscious level.
If you spot mirroring behavior, one logical question is who started the chain and who is doing the mimicking. Actually, it does not matter who initiated the gesture, the mere fact you have both assumed a certain position means there is a good chemistry going on, and you have the opportunity to use that knowledge to enhance the conversation.
You can build greater rapport with another person by reflecting back some of the body language the person is showing. The huge precaution here is not to overdo the reflections so they become obvious. If you go too far, you will put the other person off with clumsy imitations. Simply lean in the direction of the gestures you are seeing, and you will deepen trust with the other person.
If the person sitting across from you just crossed her legs, don’t immediately cross yours like it is a mechanical thing. However, through the natural gaps in the conversation and inevitable changes in posture, if you end up with your legs crossed, that is usually a helpful sign for the conversation. Just do not try to force gestures, let them happen naturally, but do pay attention for similarities in body position when you see them.
When sending body language signals, it is essential to be authentic. Trying to put on a show at any point will usually label you as a phony and trust will be broken.
Mirroring creates synchronicity
When we assume the body position of another person, it becomes easier to get on the same wavelength and communicate in constructive ways. We listen better to people who appear similar to us. The listening leads to more understanding, which becomes the basis for trust to grow.
This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language” by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.”
In previous postings I have dealt with numerous aspects of adult body language, body language in children, and even the body language of animals. It is time to deal with the only remaining category of creatures: babies!
When we think of babies and their limited ability to move, ambulate, articulate, and communicate, it seems like there would be not much to report in terms of body language for babies. The exact opposite is true.
Babies have an amazing ability to let others know what is happening in their brain as well as all other parts of their bodies. This realization underscores that most of body language is instinctive, and we do it unconsciously.
For example, the baby in the above picture is curious about something. We can tell that by the shape of the mouth and the wide-eyed expression with the eyebrows held high.
The baby has no cognition of these signals, and is not doing them intentionally; they are just there.
Here is another typical baby expression that is pretty hard to misinterpret. The baby was not trained to make these expressions. The expressions in the two pictures are both unmistakable, and even though some things are the same, the messages we get are completely different.
Here is an interesting question to ponder. They say that a high percentage of body language is culturally specific. A person living in Eastern Europe will have different body language signals than a person from Canada. Do babies from different cultures have different body language patterns? If so, how did they come by these habits?
A more plausible explanation is that all humans are born with the same set of body language regardless of location and are conditioned as they grow to emulate the patterns of the specific culture in which they live.
The bond between a mother and the baby is particularly strong. The mother will know long before another person if the baby is hungry or wet. She will be able to interpret a runny nose far before things start to get messy. I suspect that the baby has a very good idea of the emotions of the mother without the ability to understand any words.
If the mother is sad or tired, the baby will know about that, at least to some extent.
I have no way to verify that and am reminded of the joke made by Steven Wright. He said that when he is with an infant, he writes down all the noises the baby makes so he can go back years later and ask the child what she meant.
Did you ever watch an infant communicating with a dog or cat? There is so much information being transmitted in both directions it is astounding. As adults, we have learned long ago to just absorb these signals and not think about them consciously. But the signals are still there throughout our lives, and we are constantly interpreting them in our subconscious.
In my leadership classes I always ask the participants, “Who is your worst critic”? It is no surprise that nearly 100% of the people say, “Myself.”
Only once did someone blurt out immediately, “My Wife!” Even he had to agree that he is also pretty hard on himself.
When we engage in negative self talk, even at the unconscious level, it often undermines our self esteem and can lead to physical and mental ailments.
It is good to be realistic about our shortcomings so we can improve performance as we learn and grow, but it is not a healthy thing to constantly beat up on ourselves for not being perfect.
If you are 48 years old, you have likely spent 48 years practicing negative self talk that limits your performance and may even shorten your life.
The good news is that we humans have a remarkable ability to retrain the brain in a short period of time to form new habits. Research has shown it takes only about a month of conscious effort to permanently change a lifelong habit.
Here is a simple three-step process that can quickly change the quality of your life, if you give it an honest try.
Step 1 – Catch it
My mental image here is that we all have a kind of beehive of thoughts about ourselves in our subconscious mind. Most of these thoughts are negative.
This mass of energy is whizzing around all the time, and we are not even aware of it.
Every once in a while, often for no reason we can identify, one of these negative thoughts about us jumps up into our conscious mind. We are aware of our inadequacy and thinking about it.
For most of our lives these thoughts have made us feel kind of sick as we muse on why we are not more perfect. Finally the thought is supplanted by some other thought or a phone call or something, and the episode is over.
But what if we decided to be proactive and actually catch the thought when we are first aware of it? My mental image here is one of reaching up with a catcher’s mitt and catching the thought – plop – there it is. We have it firmly in hand now. Step one is completed.
The fascinating part of step one is that by simply reading this article, you will have increased your ability to catch the thought while you are having it (that is the key) . In essence, this article is giving you that catcher’s mitt.
As of now, if you start a stopwatch it will be less than one hour until you have caught your first negative thought using this procedure. By the time you go to bed tonight you will have caught from 3 to 12 of these in your mitt. Wow, that is 3 to 12 opportunities to go on to step 2!
Step 2 – Reject it
I need to be careful here and clarify that not all negative thoughts should be rejected. There are times when something you thought or did was truly wrong or unkind. In those instances, you need to hold yourself accountable and not pretend there was no violation. Understand the problem and resolve to do better in the future.
The majority of times we beat ourselves up it is just being negative about our imperfections. In those cases, rejecting the negative thought can help shape the future.
Here I use the mental image of hitting the thought with a tennis racket back into my subconscious mind. I reject the thought just like a tennis player serves the ball over the net. As many tennis players do, I often grunt while doing this using the words “No! I am not doing that any more!”
Of course I only utter the words verbally when I am alone, like in the car or out mowing the lawn. If I am with people, I utter the words silently, but I actually use the words just the same. This has a profound effect because I am training my mind to form a different thought pattern.
Step 3 – Reward yourself
This is the most important part of the approach, because this one gives you the impetus to do more of it in the future. Think to yourself, “Hey, that was a good thing. I am actually growing here in my capacity to think more positively. That feels great!”
That is all there is to this simple method of self improvement. Now you just wait for the next negative thought to come along and repeat the process.
The impact of doing this
At first, this will feel awkward or hokey. Do it anyway because you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you can do it for one day, that will give you enough momentum to do it on day 2.
Similarly, by the end of day 2 you will feel some exhilaration as you praise yourself and continue through day three. By day 4 it will be pretty easy to keep doing it.
If you persist using this method for 30 days, you will have permanently changed your thought pattern about yourself. You will use this method instinctively for the rest of your life.
Here is the likely result. If you can do this for 30 days, sometime during that process someone you love or work with will say something like this, “You have changed. I can’t put my finger on what is different, but you really are a changed individual and you wear it well.”
Of course the most important person to notice a difference in you is yourself. You will feel better because you really are better. You have beaten a life long habit of thinking negative thoughts about yourself.
Yet you still maintain the ability to see your true flaws accurately and learn from your mistakes. It is just that you have stopped punishing yourself over and over for not being good enough. What a burden lifted!
I urge you to try this simple three step approach. Look at it this way, it takes almost no time to do this, it is uplifting and fun, it improves the quality of your life, it is easy to do, and you can do it privately so nobody else has to know.
So, for no expenditure of cash or even effort, you will be shaping yourself into a new person. Once you see the benefits of this method, don’t hoard it for yourself. Teach others the wonderful relief of this technique, for as you help others you also help yourself.
The preceding information was adapted from the book The TRUST Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, by Robert Whipple. It is available on http://www.leadergrow.com.
Robert Whipple is also the author of Leading with Trust is like Sailing Downwind and, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online. Bob consults and speaks on these and other leadership topics. He is CEO of Leadergrow Inc. a company dedicated to growing leaders. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org or 585-392-7763.