How to Genuinely Connect with People

How to Get People to Trust You

We don’t push people away on purpose, but we’re always doing it.

We all need people to trust us:

When people sign up at your studio, when people come to your lessons…

Even when you meet someone.

You don’t want to push people away.

You want people to stay and believe what you’re telling them.

But we’re always pushing people away and we don’t know it; we’re losing tons of friends, students… and money.

“Steinways sound weird”

My mom bought my first acoustic piano, a Yamaha. Most of my mentors had Yamahas too.

When I started performing, I’d already been playing on that piano for about 8 – 9 years.

(That was about the time I “needed” to buy a grand piano.)

My mom and I went around Vancouver’s piano galleries looking for the perfect grand.

I tried every brand there was– Karl Muller, Steinway, you name it– and nothing sounded right. Nothing.

I disliked the touch and sound of some well-known brands. Sometimes I’d even wrinkle my nose, on reflex, when I started playing. (Not kidding.)

I’d gotten so used to the sound of my piano that the second I played something else, it felt off and… wrong.

I kept thinking “This isn’t what my piano should sound like.”

It’s like shopping for shoes (from runners to heels, anyone?), phones, something personal.

The new pianos “pushed me away”– they were too new to me.

I kept trying different pianos, touching keys, so the new sounds started to ‘get better’ to my ears (and I wasn’t so disgusted).

Very few people will touch more than one piano on a daily basis. Much less five different Steinways.

What Happened?

The point is, if you’ve never tried a Steinway, then the first time you play on one will be weird.

… maybe even ‘gross’.

And it’s totally okay. You just need to get used to it.

Every piano is different, and it’ll feel weird if you’re not used to it.

But people aren’t pianos.

If you push a parent away, they’re not going to come back again and again to “get used to” you.

You push people away, they’re not going to stick around.

How do you get someone to trust you the first time?

There are a few ways that work great, and I’ll be sharing one of the right now.

How to get people to trust you


Use better words.

You need to be “close” to everyone.

We don’t realize that we use a lot of useless words and jargon.

Why say “utilize” when you can say “use”?

Instead of long, unneeded words, use shorter, friendlier words. Say “place”, not “destination”.

Short words get your point across much more clearly and quickly.

You’re talking, not writing an essay. Please don’t be a snob.

Psychologist Dr. Hendricks says that people understand short words more easily.

Just look at magazine ads– there are great reasons why those words are so short.

Use short words for a sweet message and people will listen. (Click to tweet this)

How much is ‘too much’?

We’re talking to normal people.

Unless you’re pitching a technical proposal, don’t use long, clunky words.

Those push people away.

Stick to short words, unless it’s a technical term (like dominant seventh). Then you should be asking yourself if you should be mentioning those terms at all.

Most of the time it’s ‘no’. (If you have to ask yourself, then it’s likely a ‘no’.)

By the way, the ‘short words’ that most people understand are Anglo-Saxon words, not Latin or Greek -based words.

See how everything just got more complicated?

If I started off by saying words like “Anglo-Saxon” and “Latin”, you probably wouldn’t have gotten to this point.

Now, think of one clunky word that you use or hear a lot… and share it in your comment below.

P.S. If you know someone who will find this useful, feel free to take 2 seconds to send it to them. They’ll be happy. :)

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  • Essi April 18, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I have found a lot of your advice useful, but I must disagree with this one to certain extent. (Many clunky words there. :P)

    I agree that nothing pushes people away as strongly as showing off with big-words, or talking in a jargon for its sake, but I think it depends completely on your motivation behind using those words. (I hope I’m not already coming off as too snobby or snappy.) I am making this point because I and my friends use all the time those clunky words – because we all are excited about and engaged in such topics that commonly use them (psychology, philosophy, science etc.) Because of that I have practiced combining complex language and seeming like a down-to-earth-type for years, as I cannot avoid using that sort of language even if, or especially if I had a gun pointed to my head. I believe you can use all the big words you want and not push people away – if you just do it in the right way.

    I think the main issue is the motivation behind using big terms. If you use them just because it’s part of how you think, and take that into account when communicating, it usually isn’t a problem for anyone. But if you use them to show off, or to test someone’s knowledge – obviously it pushes people away – but even then, it isn’t actually the clunky words but your attitude, and how inconsiderate you are. I think not pushing people away with complex terms is more about not placing oneself either intentionally or accidentally on some pedestal by suggesting that “I know more than you do” or “Ooh, I am so wonderfully sophisticated because I know these words”. And you totally can avoid making that impression by for example regularly making fun off yourself, and making sure that it is clear that you don’t want or require “appropriate” or big language from others or yourself. I regularly play with language, and love having cute/funny childish reactions to things to balance things out. That works wonders for not sounding like a snob.

    I find it important that if you end up using a clunky word, you should make sure that everyone listening understands what you are saying – and if in doubt, open it up – so that it doesn’t become a snobby conversation where someone would feel ashamed/put-off/left-out by not understanding those words.

    Using big words doesn’t have to be nasty. They don’t have to become a powerplay, a snobby exhibition, but they can occasionally just be part of the way you think and function – and you can make sure it doesn’t push anyone away by balancing it out. Once you realize you sound too snobby (happens to me with new people _all_ the time), make a joke, apologize for it by making a comment about it, such as “Aargh, sorry, help me – I sound so jargonish that it’s disgusting, but these words are just stuck to my head like a bad song. So please, just let me know if what I say doesn’t make sense to you, and I’ll try to be clearer.” (*along with a slightly embarrassed face*). Every time I do something along those lines, it relieves tension, shows that I don’t try to seem sophisticated, that if someone doesn’t understand what I’m talking about – it is my fault, not theirs.

    I guess my main message is that please, don’t ban big words or terms from conversations – or necessarily try to avoid them, as they can be amazing, add extra depth, and even a lot of humour – and if you do it correctly, no one ever needs to feel left-out or put-off by it. Big words can sometimes be merely big words that have their use – and variety often makes language more interesting. :P I think you just have to make sure why you are using them. For fun, for ease, or to show-off.

    That became quite a bit longer than I expected – apologies for that, but would love to hear if you have any thoughts on that.

    Ps. If you had included the word “Anglo-saxon” to the intro or headline, my bf would have suddenly been interested in what I am doing with my computer. That big word would have signalled to him “Hey, here’s some info you’d find interesting” where as to you and me it means only utter boredom. :P

    • Grace Miles April 26, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      I’m sick of hearing the word “awesome,” like it’s a vocal tic. I’m trying to replace it with “incredible.”

      An article in TIME pointed out that people in Shakespeare’s time had working vocabularies of about 54,000 words, while we have a declining 3,000. (

      The most popular articles on LInkedIn, the most academically-inclined platform, are written at an 11 year old’s reading level.

      You’re right, we should put that sauciness back into language. Why don’t we start by cutting out “awesome?”

      • Essi April 28, 2015 at 8:32 am

        I think that idea has a nice ring, but I think that we get the best diversity in language if we don’t cut out words. Instead, we could do the same as you already have done – start using other words occasionally instead and try to avoid overusing any single word.