How to build better trust and connection

We would all like to build better trust, connections, relationships, rapport (call it what you will) with clients.
And we’d like to do so QUICKLY.

When we do that, the client is more likely to ‘accept’ or take up our recommended treatments options – for the pet, horse, farm-stock or whatever.
Over the next four weeks, we’re going to share quick, easy to implement strategies that work and make this happen.
Today it all about; your smile, your hands and your eyes.



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Hi, it’s Diederik Gelderman here. Welcome to a month in which we’re going to talk about Better Communication.

I don’t know whether you know or not, but I spend a lot of my time helping people communicate more effectively, to use their voice more effectively, their body language more effectively – that sort of thing, and that is in vet as well in non-vet. 

One of the things that I’m called in to do especially is to help new graduates in practice, and they’re typically a group that has issues communicating their ideas with the clients and getting the clients to like them, trust them, and respect, and unless the client trusts them, likes them and respects them, then that new graduate is not going to be able to get the client to take up the ideas on patient treatment, patient care and everything along that line. 

Today we’re going to share ideas that I haven’t shared on a blog, or a video before. And that’s what we’ll going to be doing for the next few weeks.

Today is all about how to build an instant better trust, liking and rapport when meet a client for the first time. 

There are three things that you need to be doing to get the client to like you immediately and trust you and respect you.

The first thing is smile. 

Now, this goes right back to our cave man days. Smiles can be seen from 300 yards away, and when someone’s smiling at you, and you see that from 300 yards away—up to 300 yards away—you perceive them as being friendly and of no-threat. 

So, when you walk in to that exam room, no matter how you’re feeling, have a big smile plastered all over your face. So, that’s number one.

The second thing is visible hands.

There are lots and lots of studies on this as well. 

Quickly before we go to ‘visible hands’, I want to quickly talk about Shark Tank – because the ‘SMILE’ is really important on Shark Tank. 

I don’t know whether you’re a Shark Tank fan or not—I rarely, if ever, watch it. But there have been studies done on the Shark Tank participants or contestants—whatever you want to call them—who was successful and who was not successful and why – and there are lessons here for US. 

It’s about a 50-50 split, half the contestants got the deal and the other half didn’t. 

One of the common characteristics about the participants that got the deal was that as they walk down that gangway or that gangplank or whatever you want to call it, when they were approaching the Sharks, they were smiling as they came into view and as they came into shot.

And…. typically, the people that did not get the deal were not smiling. So, that’s a really important point, smile to the point of grin when you meet your clients.

Now, the second thing is visible hands. 

This goes way back to caveman days as well. Now, if the caveman had his (or her) hand behind his/her back, it could be a spear or it could be a club or something like that. That person was a (potential) threat if those hands weren’t visible…..

Again, at some level, our brain trusts people with open hands, open palms, expressive hands, more than people that have their hands hidden.

Studies in juries, they ask juries about defendants in all sorts of different cases, and a jury is more likely to think that a defendant is lying if that defendant had their hands under the table or by their sides. 

In other words, when they’re hands are visible on top of the table, the juries are more likely to believe that defendant as being honest than if their hands were hidden; an important point, I think. 

And, we can even inadvertently hide ours hands when we come into the exam room by having them in our pockets, be holding papers or case notes or X-rays or something like that. 

You must be really, really careful when you meet a client and you walk into that exam room that your hands are open and exposed / visible and friendly so that the client is more likely to trust you.

The third thing I want to talk about today is eye contact. 

Eye contact causes the release of oxytocin in both you and in the other person. 

Oxytocin is also called the ‘cuddle’ hormone. 

Now, I’m not asking you to cuddle your clients, but oxytocin release makes them feel good – and it makes you feel good as well. 

So, when you make eye contact with your client, they get a burst of oxytocin and you get a burst of oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, it’s also called the ‘connection hormone’ or the hormone of connection. 

So, you need to look your clients in the eye for—people always ask me, “How long should I look them in the eye for?” 

Because if you’re going to stare at them like this, you’re being very invasive, and if you quickly look away, you’re being sneaky.

Look them in the eye long enough to notice their eye colour. That’s my general rule of thumb. 

When you’ve noticed that their eye colour is say red—red, hopefully it’s not red at 9o’clock in the morning—if it’s green or olive, or whatever it happens to be, blue

When you’ve noticed that, you’ve looked at them long enough. 

And then you should make regular eye contact again during that exam room process, during the whole time they’re there. 

And I’m going to suggest that you spend about 40%-50% of the time that you’re talking with that client making eye connection, and that’s going to build your rapport, connectedness, trust and likability

So, they’re the three things I want to talk about today. 

  • Smile, 
  • Open hands, 
  • Eye contact, 

Do that and the level of trust the client has in you will dramatically increase, and therefore they’ll trust you enough to allow you to do the appropriate treatments on their pet, and that will result in better patient outcomes.

Three things for you to work on until we talk again next week.


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