Instant trust, is it possible?

It has often been said that gaining someone’s trust can be your biggest time saver in Real Estate. Often this can take a long time in itself while you build a strong relationship. But what if you could speed up that process and make it happen much more quickly? There is scientific evidence now to suggest you can, and it could make all the difference to your next meeting or listing presentation.

Neuroeconomist* (see definition below) Paul Zak  has studied the concept of how different chemicals in our bodies can influence how generous or selfish we are. He has experimented with one chemical in particular — oxytocin — which he says is responsible for trust, empathy and other feelings that help build a stable society. He says that levels of oxytocin in the brain can vary depending on our social situation, and our environment.

Zak and colleagues have performed many variations on an experiment known as the ‘ultimatum game’. One of two people is given a sum of money, eg $100, and told they must decide how to split it with the other person. If this person is dissatisfied with the split, then they can reject it, but then the money vanishes, and neither person gets any. During this experiment, they gave some participants a squirt of oxytocin to the nose beforehand and found that the share of the money they offered the other side increased by 80 percent. (It’s important to note that the increase occurred when the first person had to consider the other person’s reaction.)

But how fascinating. If Zak is right, in a sales context, if the level of oxytocin in a prospect (buyer or seller) is increased, then they might be more than happy to pay over the odds or list with you on the spot.

While you can’t really run around squirting prospect’s noses with oxytocin (you can’t get it at the health food store and the thought of even trying makes me chuckle!) but there are ways, Zak says, to raise the chemical oxytocin naturally in a person’s bloodstream, and therefore a person’s brain without invading their nostrils.

Here are some of Zak’s  tried and tested top tips for raising oxytocin in the bloodstream/brain. Some work on the people around you; some you may want to try yourself if you are feeling down, cynical or lacking motivation!

  1. Listen with your eyes. Instead of being glued to an electronic device, give the person with your complete attention. Watch their face and listen to what he or she is telling you.
  2. Give a gift. Our first human oxytocin studies showed that receiving gifts raised oxytocin. Why not make this a regular practice? The key is not to expect a gift in return, just surprise someone for no reason.
  3. Share a meal. Eating moderately is calming and helps us bond with others. Including a glass of wine is fine, too. You can increase the effect by following #9 and making the meal you share a gift.
  4. Meditate while focusing on others. My lab has found that a form of meditation called “metta” in which one focuses on loving others is better at fostering social connections than standard mindfulness meditation.
  5. Use social media. OK, you are doing this anyway. 100% of the people I have tested using social media had an increase in oxytocin. Just don’t forget to see your Facebook friends in person, too.
  6. Take a hot bath. The warmth and bubbles make you feel good!
  7. Ride a roller coaster or jump out of an airplane. Many activities that are moderately stressful and done with one or more other people raise oxytocin. My recent tandem skydive produced a greater than 200% oxytocin spike. Try being a single rider on a roller coaster and you’ll experience an immediate bond with the person next to you.
  8. Pat a dog. This one doesn’t always work unless the dog belongs to you, but if you identify as a “dog person” any old dog will raise your oxytocin. Once oxytocin is up, you’ll connect you better to the humans around you, too. The dog won’t complain, either.
  9. Use the “L” word. Tell those around you that you love them. Oxytocin is the love molecule so it is part of our evolved biology to love others (both “philia” and “eros”). You’ve got to put it out there to get it back. Yes, this means with friends and even at work.
  10. Eight hugs a day. We have shown that touch not only raises oxytocin, but it reduces cardiovascular stress and can improve the immune system. Try telling people that you hug rather than shake hands and see what happens when you give others the gift of oxytocin. (Milton Rendell, you knew about this all along, didn’t you?!)

*Neuroeconomics is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to explain human decision making, the ability to process multiple alternatives and to choose an optimal course of action. It studies how economic behaviour can shape our understanding of the brain, and how neuroscientific discoveries can constrain and guide models of economics.

Watch Paul Zak’s ted talk on eliteagent.com

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Samantha McLean

Samantha McLean is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Elite Agent and Host of the Elevate Podcast.