Robin Dreeke, the head of Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the author of “It’s Not All About Me” shares some practical tips to establish trust. In an interview with Farnam Street of Business Insider, Dreeke said building and strengthening relationships is the most important thing in life.

FBI

Scientific research and evidence suggest that positive relationships and social interactions are the source of greatest happiness. To build relationships, you have to make it all about them. Our brain rewards us if we talk about our own priorities, views, goals and activities. Because that’s genetically coded in every human being to varying degrees. But to become an integral part of a group or tribe, and to build relationships, we should talk about the other person’s priorities and interests. Some of us can do it naturally, but the rest of us have to practice it to the extent that this behavior becomes second nature.

How our brain determines trust

When determining trust, says the FBI officer, our brain goes far beyond verbal information. Trust begins when the other person’s mind begins rewarding them for interacting with you. The other person should feel that the time he spent interacting with you was well worth it. To achieve that, we need to learn the other person’s priorities, goals and choices. Trust will develop when you align their priorities and goals with yours. Dreeke says the relationship grows even faster if there is no personal agenda.

Talking about ways to approach someone you don’t know, the FBI’s behavioral analysis chief said using sympathy to seek someone’s help is the best way. If you can tie in the help you need with the other person’s interest and priorities, your odds of success increase manifold. Adding social proof can further increase the likelihood of getting a stranger to help you. The key is to ask for help in a way that the other person’s brain rewards them for doing so.

FBI agent’s five steps

To sum it all up, here are the top five ways to build relationships and gain anyone’s trust, as told by the FBI’s chief of Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program, Robert Dreeke:

  1. It’s all about them. Learn about their goals, priorities and objectives.
  2. Place their interest ahead of yours.
  3. Allow them to talk, and hold your own temptation to give them a 40 minute speech.
  4. Seek others’ opinions and thoughts.
  5. Ego suspension is crucial. Validate the other person non-judgmentally and unconditionally for who he  is as a human being.