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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  • Brian

    Great advice! I coach a greet team at church and you have summarized most all of the things I have learned about connecting quickly.

    Each member of my team has about 7 seconds or less to engage our guests–this is certainly a good start!

    Thanks!

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    Dr. Anderson Reply:

    Thanks Brian,

    I ‘m glad you found the tips useful. It is so important to connect with others and we often don’t have much time to engage others and make them feel comfortable. John Maxwell just put out a new book called Most Communicate, few Connect that would be a good read for your team.

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  • Paul D Reynolds

    This is an excellent and practical piece of advice – even down to sounding the word “great” to make your face crack a real smile. Your article is perfect for many things including real estate. For sale by owners meet people at the door to show thier home or real estate agents greeting a prospective listing. I would love to share your post with my own readers at PropertyPlace.ca

    The book tip you gave to commentator Brian sounds good. I am checking if our Vancouver Public Library has the book. Thanks again.

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  • http://routinehabit.com/blog sharon thoms

    Hi, nice article. It’s so important in meeting people for the first time to make as good an impression as we can. I work in sales and marketing and this is almost what will make or break a sale. Thanks for you info. I will remember to look to see what their eye colour is as well as trying great under my breath for a natural smile. Also important to repeat the persons name out loud when you first meet for memory retention, as well as trying to pick out a distinguishing feature on their face and joining that feature to a name which will trigger the memory of the name of the person that you have just met. My blog http://routinehabit.com/blog is about creating great habits to make life better and I’ll be certain to add your points into my routine for when I first meet someone new. Thank you again.

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  • http://www.retireathomefranchise.com Judy

    Lead with your heart is the best advice. You have to be genuine and feel something for the other person. It’s the best way to make a good connection with someone.

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  • LaVonne

    I  will definitely take this into thought,  however,  some of the things I read may be best left avoided…. I’ve heard before and agree that things like “leaning in” toward the person you are speaking with may be seen as sexual harassment (MAY being the key word) and “mirroring body language” can make someone feel that you are mocking them. These statements however, may only apply in a professional environment, rather than casual first encounters, then again, I’m 11 years old, so this may not be the most credible opinion. Still, I felt this could be of importance to those trying to be as careful as possible

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  • Sparklymia1010

    Cool :)

    [Reply]