How to be More Trustworthy in Public

Brent Peterson —  March 26, 2014 — 9 Comments

I usually like to talk to people when I am out in public.

The way I see it, every conversation is an opportunity to make someone’s day.

A kind word that I share may be the only word of encouragement that person hears for a day or even longer.

Granted, I don’t always know what to say.

And sometimes I choose not to say anything at all.

But I had one habit that wasn’t helping the cause. 

I wasn’t making direct eye contact.

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I made the discovery when I recently researched the 10 graceful habits of Disney employees.

Disney cast members exemplify how to be more trustworthy.

As you may have experienced, Disney employees make direct eye contact and smile when they approach guests at any of their theme parks.

What do they do first?

They remove their sunglasses.

(Considering it’s almost always sunny in Orlando or Anaheim, this habit speaks volume about Disney’s attention to detail when it comes to customer service)

How to be More Trustworthy in Public

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Solicited Feedback From the Person Who Knows Me Best

After writing about Disney habits, I asked my wife Eve if I wear sunglasses when I talk to people.

Without hesitation, her reply:

“All the time.”

My next question:

“Do sunglasses make people (especially men) seem less trustworthy?”

Without hesitation, her reply:

“All the time.”

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Changing the Habit

Now when I speak to someone outside, I use the start of a conversation as a cue to remove my sunglasses.

I hope you choose to do the same, if you’re not already.

Making direct eye contact builds trust.

And it is a sign of respect.

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Furthermore, this simple yet graceful habit ensures the focus of the conversation is where it should be…

On the other person.

(Featured images Creative Commons License Ed Yourdon, Brett KigerCollin Key via Compfight)

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SHARE YOUR COMMENTS:

What is your experience and advice for making eye contact outside?
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Brent Peterson

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Brent is the author of the Stand & Inspire blog. Stay connected with Brent via free email subscription to Stand & Inspire blog posts. Brent is also the creator of Interview Angel, a popular career toolkit for job seekers to use in interviews. Brent loves to clean the kitchen, play softball, cheer for the Baltimore Orioles, and go cycling on country roads (but not necessarily in that order). He loves public speaking but is afraid of eggs. You can connect with Brent on LinkedIn and Google+ as well.

9 responses to How to be More Trustworthy in Public

  1. Your intentional choice to replace poor habits with better ones is commendable, Brent. Making eye contact has always been one of my strengths. I don’t wear sunglasses often, so that has never been an issue. But it does bother me if I can’t see the eyes of the person I’m talking to.

  2. Hi Brent, another thought provoking post!

    I do wear sunglasses all the time, but I always pop them on the top of my head when I am talking to people, I think it is just a polite thing to do. I personally don’t like talking to people who don’t remove their glasses, it makes me uncomfortable as I can’t read them. Our eyes and facial expressions play a big part in conversation, our words may say one thing and our face may say another, it’s all part and parcel of communicating.

    I also hate talking on the phone as I can’t see peoples faces. To be honest I don’t like talking on the phone full stop!

    • Thanks Debbie! Wearing sunglasses is healthy habit and your routine to pop them on your head in conversation is exactly what I’m working on. It’s funny how I never noticed what I was doing until now! :)

      • debsrandomwritings March 28, 2014 at 12:32 AM

        I think what prompted me into removing them was the fact that I don’t like it when people talk to me with their eyes covered by sunglasses. I have friends who don’t remove their sunglasses, but that probably because it doesn’t worry them when someone talks to them whilst wearing their sunglasses. I suppose it is very much a personal thing.

        I grew up in England and very rarely wore sunglasses back then – not many people did – and now that I live in a country where sunglasses are necessary twelve months of the year, everyone wears them, but not that many people remove them whilst chatting.

  3. I believe as I’ve matured in my listening skills I’ve made eye contact a priority. In observing others, I’ve found that a person who is not making eye contact looks disinterested– almost like they’re looking for an escape from the conversation. When you make eye-contact and listen well, people think you’re a great conversationalist–and you really don’t have to say much!

What are your thoughts?