Do You Demonstrate the Most Desired Interpersonal Character Trait?

November 12, 2015    |    David Mears

What qualities do we desire most in other people — the ones we work with, buy from, socialize with, and even casually encounter at the bus stop?

Here are some possibilities: sincerity, intelligence, extraversion, attractiveness, assertiveness, honesty, thoughtfulness, empathy, vitality. You get the idea.


So which characteristic is most important?
In a series of three studies described in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology1, researchers examined this question and came to the same conclusion each time:

Trustworthiness is the top trait people desire in others with whom they interact. Whether the relationship is with an employee, a project team member, a sports team, a family member, or even a casual acquaintance, this trait is by far the most desired in any type of relationship.


Credibility is based on trust. 
When you share important ideas with an executive, a fellow project team member, or a potential buyer, you need to be a persuasive, credible presenter. Simply put, your listener (and not you) determines whether or not your communication is persuasive, and they do it by answering three questions:

  1. Do I UNDERSTAND what is being said?
  2. Do I see the VALUE for me personally and for my organization?
  3. Do I TRUST this person to do what he or she says they will do?


Here’s the bottom line: even if your audience understands and sees value in your ideas, you’ll fail to persuade if they don’t see you as a trustworthy messenger.

So, when you're considering ways to improve your effectiveness (and that of your team), ask yourself: “Are we presenting our ideas with credibility built on a foundation of trustworthiness?”

Want to find out more about what it takes to be a credible — and trustworthy — presenter? 

Learn about Mandel’s corporate presentation training program: The Extraordinary PresenterTM


1   Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition