Trust in the First 10 Seconds

Do you want to develop an emotionally engaged, relationship-based practice where people choose you over the insurance-driven option? It is not going to be your technical knowledge that does this. It is in how you touch people’s hearts.

Trust or the lack of it can be built within seconds. How can we best emotionally engage people? Immediately as you greet a person, focus on them – each and every time. Give the S-O-F-T-E-N approach a try:

How to Develop Trust in Only 10 Seconds

Smile: A welcoming greeting in any language.

Open up: Open body language – relaxed, welcoming, arms open, palms up.

Forward body lean: Again, welcoming, not aggressive. A slight forward lean can demonstrate attention, interest, engagement.

Touch: Lightly when and where appropriate. Studies indicate people feel a warmth of endorphins with a light human touch. A gentle handshake with the left hand also touching lightly can work. A light touch on the shoulder or arm is effective too.

Eye contact: This is the most important thing you can do to gain immediate connection. Immediately look the person in their right eye. Not to stare. Especially while you are speaking to the person. Recent studies indicate eye contact has dropped to the 30-60% range in today’s digital smartphone era. That’s a huge drop into disengagement. It drops even more when one is speaking.

We are losing human connection to the soul, yet 60-70% eye contact is ideal. Practice glancing into their right eye consistently. Yes it feels awkward at first and yes it takes conscious intent. Why the right eye you ask? Mostly so you don’t stare at the bridge of the nose and look cross-eyed, but also the right eye engages a person’s creative, intuitive parts of the right brain more quickly.

Nod: A slight affirmative nod as the person is speaking is a strong indicator to continue. Studies indicate a person even accepts criticism and correction better if one nods slightly while presenting bad news. A nod tends to indicate support, not just agreement.  

Interestingly, the reverse is also true. A shake of the head while giving supportive news can create a sense of skepticism. Yes, I can look like a bobblehead at times. Emotionally engaged attention is becoming a lost art. But it is the greatest way to touch a person’s heart.

In dentistry we have a huge advantage. We have multiple interactions every day with good folks who trust us enough to do scary things in one of the most intimate parts of the body. We can grow that trust to emotional engagement one person at a time.

What is the result of an army of emotionally engaged dental missionaries? Lots of loving people who say: “You have to go see my dentist. They’re the best in the world!” Whose world? Theirs.

How can you achieve an emotionally engaged, relationship-based practice where people choose you over the insurance-driven route? Practice, practice, practice – on people, not just their teeth. Start with your family! And love the practice.

Bill Gregg DDS

I attended South Hills High School in Covina, Denison University in Granville, Ohio and the University of Redlands in Redlands, California prior to dental school at UCLA. My post-graduate education has included an intensive residency at UCLA Hospital, completion of a graduate program at The L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education ; acceptance for Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry (FAGD); and in 2006 I earned the prestegious Pankey Scholar. Continuing education has always been essential in the preparation to be the best professional I am capable of becoming and to my ongoing commitment to excellence in dental care and personal leadership. I am a member of several dental associations and study groups and am involved in over 100 hours of continuing education each year. The journey to become one of the best dentists in the world often starts at the Pankey Institute. I am thrilled that I am at a point in my professional life that I can give back. I am honored that I can be a mentor to others beginning on their path. As such, I have discovered a new passion; teaching. I am currently on faculty at The L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education devoting 2-3 weeks each year to teaching post-graduate dental programs. In other presentations my focus is on Leadership and includes lifestyle, balance and motivation as much as dentistry.

Bill Gregg DDS

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