If you want someone to trust you, carrying the traits of warmth and competence can go a long way. The book “The Human Brand” talked about this quite a bit, so I thought I’d share some of what they said.
First is the overview:
A person who demonstrates both warmth and competence inspires feelings of trust and admiration within us, motivating us to seek a continuing relationship with that person.
They point out that the “and” is very important in this context. If you only exude warmth or competence, it’ll reflect poorly on you:
One who displays competence in the absence of warmth, however, tends to leave us feeling envious and suspicious, while someone we perceive as warm but not competent stimulates feelings of pity and sympathy. A person who exhibits low levels of both warmth and competence often provokes feelings of contempt and disgust.
So what do those traits look like?
Warmth is judged by assessing whether one is kind, friendly, and good-natured; whether one appears sincere, honest, moral, and trustworthy; and whether one possesses an accommodating orientation and is perceived as helpful, tolerant, fair, generous, and understanding.
Competence is judged by assessing whether one possesses special resources, skills, creativity, or intelligence that grants them an advantage. Do they appear efficient, capable, skillful, clever, and knowledgeable? Do they seem to possess the confidence and ability to carry out their plans?
Of course, this applies to companies as well. People are at the core of any company, but policies can impact things quite a bit. You can try to fake it with things like loyalty cards, but those don’t actually create any loyalty. Here’s what they should be doing instead:
Companies that exercise genuine warmth exhibit a willingness to respond sincerely to their customers’ needs, even at their own short-term expense. The most-admired ones tend to be those that establish trusting, long-term relationships with their customers by making it a point to put customers first and themselves second.
The last thing I’ll share is somewhat counter-intuitive. We may tend to think that warmth doesn’t matter much if a company displays adequate competence, but it does:
When a company treats us competently but coldly, we don’t feel particularly grateful, even if the service or product provides us with excellent value for the dollar. Instead, as the research shows, we see a cold and competent company acting in a transactional exchange for its own benefit first, with little thought given to our needs or desires. We feel used.
Whether it’s for yourself or on behalf of your company, your ability to show both warmth and competence can go a long way. If you haven’t read “The Human Brand” yet, I encourage you to check it out as it goes much deeper into these concepts.