In a classic 1978 social psychology experiment, researcher Bonnie Erickson and her colleagues had potential jurors listen to a witness give testimony about an auto accident. Some jurors heard the witness respond in a “powerful” forthright and direct style. Others listened to the witness provide exactly the same information, but hesitate and hedge in a “powerless” style, using frequent intensifiers, hesitation forms and questioning intonations. Turned out that what the witnesses said was actually less important than how they said it; the confident straightforward witnesses were rated as significantly more credible and competent than the unsure indirect ones.
Huh, so people are perceived as more credible when they make eye contact and speak with confidence, no matter what they have to say? That’s a surprise, isn’t it? 😀 But is there a lesson in there for all of us?
When you speak decisively and confidently, you are perceived to be more expert, intelligent and knowledgeable. Is this information worth considering if you have a difficult message to convey to others? Or is it too close to “faking” it? What do you think?