How to Make Someone Like and Trust You in 60 Seconds or Less

Being back to work after a year of maternity leave actually feels pretty good.  I miss my little man but I do think we can be better parents when we are not parents 24/7. Everybody needs a little adult conversation and an outlet to broaden horizons and stretch the intellectual envelope, whether that happens to be at work, university or when volunteering.

A doctor establishing trust with her patientI was in the OR today doing cataract surgery. This is what I love doing and it feels great to be back. It was an odd day today because I had never before met any of the 15 people I was operating on. They were all seen, assessed and booked for surgery by my locum while I was off on maternity leave.

I had to think of a way to connect with these people in the short 1-2 minutes I have to converse with them before we bring them in to do the surgery. “Hi I’m Dr. Anderson and I will be cutting into your eye” probably wouldn’t do it.  How do the best communicators and connectors do it? If we observe people with a real talent for connecting with others we will see that they do similar things in a similar order in the first 60 seconds of meeting another individual. The most successful people are masters at connecting.

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A recent study done at Stanford University found that the number one factor in determining the success of students graduating from their MBA program was social connection- an ability to make others trust, respect and like them quickly. I find it so interesting that this ability trumps skill or intellectual prowess.

How the Most Successful People Make People Comfortable in the First 60 Seconds

1)      Eye contact. This is critical to building trust with the individual you are interacting with. A great exercise is to determine what colour the eyes are of anybody that you just meet. In trying to figure this out you cannot help but make the necessary eye contact that will deepen the connection. As an eye surgeon, you would think this comes naturally but I still find this tip really helpful in new encounters.

Likable business man connecting with clients2)      Attitude is everything. Always approach someone with a positive attitude and smile. The best way to trigger a natural smile is to say the word “great” a couple of times under your breath.

3)      Approach with confidence. Head held high, great posture and a firm handshake. This shows authority and helps people to trust you.

4)      Lead with your heart. Physically and figuratively. Have an open stance so your heart is pointing at the individual. Also speak from the heart and be authentic in everything you say and do.

5)      Lean in to listen to someone and nod attentively. Always make people feel that what they have to offer is important to you.

6)      Mirror body language. This often makes the other person feel more comfortable. For instance if someone puts their hand on their chin, do the same.

7)      Find common ground. There is always something that can link you. If nothing else the weather or sports are good ice breakers.

So by consciously thinking about my approach and being deliberate yet natural and authentic I was able to make a connection with all of my patients so that they could come into surgery feeling comfortable with my ability as a surgeon and comfortable with the surgery. Building trust quickly is very valuable in medicine and business as well as in life.

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