Which of the 2 qualities is more impactful when influencing someone: Warmth or Competence?

According to a recent Harvard study,  the 2 things people judge you on when they meet you for the first time are warmth and competence. Which of the 2 would you consider as more relevant if you want to influence someone effectively?  

Most people would say competence but according to Amy Cuddy's research, it is warmth and trustworthiness which make the difference in how people evaluate you.

Upon delving deeper into the topic of trust building (after over 25 years of work in mediation and conflict management), we at CEDR find that there are three pillars, or three prerequisites, which are necessary to build trust:

  • Ability – the actual or perceived capability and competence to build trust
  • Benevolence – the extent to which a person is believed to voluntarily do good to the other
  • Integrity – the perception that a person adheres to a set of principles considered acceptable by the other and acts consistently according to those.

So what could managers and leaders learn from this in order to (re-)build trust with their team members? For less empowered team members, receiving commands and task requests keeps their lives simple and, of course, maintains all the responsibility… with you. Some managers go along with this system as it protects their privacy. They are able to keep a thick castle wall between their private lives, their past and their mistakes and the workplace. With some managers, in particular middle managers, we observed that the wall around them is so thick that they are private in public and public in private. 

There is a line drawn between 9 to 5 and 5 to 9. If you really want to build trust, there is a time to reveal private details about you in a way that will enhance trust, establish your brand and build the team’s competence and independence. There’s a time to show vulnerability by talking about the mistakes you made and what you learned from them. Of course, there are things that you should not reveal to anybody! As for other information, subtle revelations about you can be helpful and will establish trust within your team. Trust us.

So what do you reveal?

Susanne Schuler is the Director of Training & Consultancy at CEDR and a Mediator. To book on a CEDR training course email training@cedr.com. If you'd like to book Susanne for a mediation call us on +44 (0)20 7536 6000.