Even knowing a negative past history, a trustworthy face makes a difference.  We just can’t help but be influenced by how the agent, that tries to influence, looks. It’s true in business and in your career. Every entrepreneur should know this.

The evolutionary explanations for a trustworthy face in business and career

Alexander Todorov and his colleagues at Princeton University were able to mathematically model faces that vary along a dimension of trustworthiness. What did these faces look like? A trustworthy face is narrower with wider eyes arching eyebrows and a mouth that curves up at the sides – this type of face has what many would consider to be a feminine look.

A not trustworthy face is wider with a larger nose and eyebrows and mouth that curve down at the sides – this face has more of a masculine tough guy look. And, why would we make snap judgments of people’s trustworthiness based on facial features? If you are an entrepreneur try to think about this. Did specific faces impact your success?!

One explanation is evolutionary theory as social animals humans need to make very quick judgments about potential threats with people that we are interacting with. So fast processing of heavily masculine features that are commonly associated with aggression will lead to a judgment that someone is a risk and should not be trusted.

Imagine a time earlier in our evolutionary history when if we had a fraction of a second to decide whether someone jumped out of us is a risk. The person with more feminine features may be far less likely to hurt us and we carry this evolutionary history with us even today.

Building credibility and trust as an entrepreneur

If you are reading this article to help you become more influential in business and career, some of these studies can be depressing. It’s hard to change with success fundamental elements of your parents such as the bone structure of your face. But you can do a few little things to look more attractive. Most important, groom your hair and skin so that their needs and smile a lot.

Both neatness and smiling are associated with attractiveness and will help you get perceived as positive in other ways and ensure your success. Of course how you look isn’t all that matters in business. There are certainly examples of average looking or even below average looking leaders who will win over a company fold or even a country full of people.

What have these agents done over time to build credibility and trust with their targets of influence? First they have ability, skills and competencies that allow them to do things effectively, in other words trustworthy people are competent. Second, trustworthy people have benevolence they intend to help you – another way to say this is that they are caring.

And, third they have integrity – they abide by a set of principles that’s clear and sensible – that’s another way of saying the trustworthy people are consistent in how they behave. So if you want to be seen as trustworthy to lay the groundwork for future success as an agent of influence you should practice three C’s, you should strive to be competent, caring and consistent.

This model allows us to move beyond initial impressions and offers specific suggestions about what you can do to develop a reputation or trustworthiness.