You can earn the confidence of clients and prospects through the ways you communicate with them — both verbally and non-verbally. The words you use, the tone of your voice and your body language can play a big part in gaining their trust.

“Sometimes, what you don’t say matters more than what you say,” says Prem Malik, financial advisor with Queensbury Securities Inc. in Toronto. “You can take control of the way you are perceived by clients by the way you communicate with them.”

Effective use of verbal and non-verbal communication techniques generally comes with practice and experience.

Here are five communication techniques to build client confidence.

1. Listen attentively
Every client has a story. Listen attentively to what they are saying without interrupting them, Malik says. Listening demonstrates that you value what your client is telling you. If your client’s story raises questions in your mind, make a mental note of what you would like to ask when he or she is finished.

You may wish to unobtrusively make notes, although it is advisable to get the client’s permission before doing so.

“You should avoid distractions,” Malik says. “And never make clients feel you are rushing them.”

2. Subtly show approval
Indicate that you are following your client’s story or agree with what he or she is saying by occasionally smiling or nodding your head, Malik says.

“This demonstrates acceptance,” he says, and it makes clients feel comfortable and confident. “Empathize with them when appropriate and compliment them for making good decisions without being patronizing.”

3. Encourage clients to tell you more
Urge your client to open up and tell you more. This step can be a great confidence booster. “It shows that you care,” Malik says.

Ask open-ended questions to get as much information as possible instead of questions than can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

Most clients appreciate it when you dig deeper for information, he says.

4. Show that you understand
Never “jump to conclusions” after listening to a client, Malik says. Paraphrase what you heard and get clarification that you have not missed anything. “If you’ve got it right,” Malik says, “clients will have more confidence in you.”

5. Offer constructive feedback
“Do not openly contradict clients,” Malik says. Instead, he says, “Offer objective opinions or suggestions.”

For example, you might say: “Have you thought about this?”; or “Here is another way to look at it.” You may wish to share similar client experiences to demonstrate that you have worked with clients in similar situation to gain their confidence.