Happy Hour with Bundle Birth Nurses

#49 The Power of First Impressions: Science-Based Tips for Building Rapport with Vanessa Van Edwards

October 23, 2023 Bundle Birth, A Nursing Corporation Season 3 Episode 49
Happy Hour with Bundle Birth Nurses
#49 The Power of First Impressions: Science-Based Tips for Building Rapport with Vanessa Van Edwards
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, multi-time bestselling author and renowned behavioral researcher on professional communication and leadership Vanessa Van Edwards joins us to give quick, practical, science-based tips on how to best connect and build rapport with patients. Vanessa’s work has been featured in national and international media, including Inc, Entrepreneur Magazine, CNN, CBS and many more. Her book, Captivate, has been translated into over 17 languages. Her latest book, Cues: Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication, was an instant bestseller. Don't miss the easy-to-apply yet profound insights in this episode that, if put into practice, will help all nurses level up their care. Thanks for listening and subscribing!

Helpful Links:
- Join us for a ONE-TIME-ONLY Physiologic Coping Class use promocode: buildrapport for $25 off your ticket!
- Check Out Vanessa's Website ScienceofPeople.com
- Buy Vanessa's Books Cues and Captivate on Amazon
- Vanessa's Ted Talk 

Justine:
Hi, I am Justine.

Sarah Lavonne:
And I'm Sarah Lavonne.

Justine:
And we are so glad you're here.

Sarah Lavonne:
We believe that your life has the potential to make a deep, meaningful impact on the world around you. You as a nurse have the ability to add value to every single person and patient you touch.

Justine:
We want to inspire you with resources, education, and stories to support you to live your absolute best life, both in and outside of work.

Sarah Lavonne:
But don't expect perfection over here. We're just here to have some conversations about anything, birth, work, and life, trying to add some happy to your hour as we all grow together.

Justine:
By nurses, for nurses, this is Happy Hour with Bundle Birth Nurses.

Sarah Lavonne:
I honestly can't even believe that this is happening right now. I always trying to think about how we can grow this audience, how we can really level up our care. And as I was reading Vanessa Van Edwards' books, I've read Captivate a couple of years ago, I've recently read it again, and then she has her newer book called Cues out, which we'll link down below, I couldn't help but think to myself, "This is exactly what we need to know and learn as nurses." Of course, it was like, "Well, the sky's the limit. You don't know until you ask." So we asked for her to come on. The fact that she was willing to come and talk to you today, about died, to be honest, and I've never really been nervous for a podcast, but I'm nervous today.
And so I want to introduce you to Vanessa Van Edwards. She is a multi bestselling author and renowned behavioral researcher, so she is science-based to the max on professional communication and leadership. More than 50 million people have seen Vanessa on YouTube and in her viral TED Talk, which we will link down below. Vanessa's work has been featured in national and international media, including Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine, CNN, CBS, and so many more. Her book Captivate has been translated into over 17 languages, and her latest book Cues: Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication was an instant bestseller. Vanessa has influenced the way that I speak, the way that I teach. Her little tips and tricks are so easy to integrate into your life and then into our practice, so it is a treat to have you here, Vanessa.
All of that being said, it is the biggest treat for me to have you here, Vanessa, and I'll let you introduce yourself in just a second. But for me, I've actually found you through The Global Leadership Summit, and this is something that I have gone to since I was literally a baby floor nurse. My parents have gone their whole life and they brought me along, and honestly, my leadership journey started with a feedback box, that was the lamest idea of all time, but it helped with this, we had low morale in the unit and la di da. I started going to The Global Leadership Summit, and then I saw you speak in person, I've seen you on the second one, you have been a regular there, and every time I have heard you speak and I've read your books, that I have thought to myself, "This is exactly what we do as nurses." And the fact that you would be willing to come on the podcast, I was like, "Hey, it's like writing Oprah and being like, 'It's always a no until you ask.'" I'm so excited to have you.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
I was like, "Yes." Well, first of all, you're going to make me cry.

Sarah Lavonne:
Really?

Vanessa Van Edwards:
Yes. When your request came through, I was like, "Those are my people." That is because I have had two babies, and labor and delivery nurses, you are my angels. Oh my goodness, so in a weird way, when I wrote Cues, so Captivate, I wrote before I was a Mother, Cues, I wrote after I was a mother. And I literally was thinking about nurses and people who are working in these industries where you're of service and you have to reach people incredibly quickly. So when your request came through, I told my team, I was like, "Yes, I will do it. Yes, I can't wait. I can't wait." And your introduction, that is so kind.

Sarah Lavonne:
Well, I have so many lovely things to say about you, but we want to learn from your expertise because I think what's so cool, and one of the things that I get to do is take in information from every outside resource that doesn't necessarily have to do with clinical and then flip it to our environment. That's what I want to do with all of the work that you've done, which is so science-based, which connects with our heartstrings as nurses, we're such science people. My first question for you, knowing that nurses have to walk into a room, they look at a family in the most potentially vulnerable/exciting day of their life, and they have to build rapport instantly and they have to build that trust layer so instantly. And so when we think about building rapport, tell me what are some of your science-based tips for building rapport? How do we do that well?

Vanessa Van Edwards:
All right, so here's the good news, is there is science on this. This is from Princeton University, this is a very foundational study, so it's been repeated, we know this is true, especially in clinical settings. They've actually even studied this with surgeons and doctors. I don't know if they studied it with nurses. What they found was that when we first meet someone, we're very quickly trying to answer two questions about them, this is across the board, everyone we meet, "Can I trust you? And can I rely on you?" Those two questions are incredibly important, and they're even more important in a very emotional, potentially traumatic setting. When you're in a hospital room or you're in pain, you really want to answer those two questions quickly. In this way, 82% of our judgments of people are made up of only two traits. And I think this is good news, instead of having to worry about being funny or being impressive, all you have to worry about is warmth plus competence. That is the formula for impact.
Warmth, friendliness, likability, trust, competence, power, capability, efficiency. The very first thing that you want to do when you walk into a room, hop on a call, someone sees you in the waiting room, is you want to very quickly signal warmth and competence. And what that looks like, it can look like on nonverbal cues, but it also can look like verbal cues. For example, one of the things that really helped me on my second stay, so I had my first daughter in 2018, my second daughter this year in 2023.

Sarah Lavonne:
Oh, congrats.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
Thank you. She's eight months, is I wanted to feel like this was someone who I could immediately trust and be friends with, but also someone who was going to get it done, because I needed my meds. Both of those questions were needing to be answered. Okay, so if you break that down, the way that we show warmth and competence is through our verbal cues, our nonverbal cues and our vocal cues. The very first thing, this is going to sound so odd, is the tone of your voice.

Sarah Lavonne:
Okay.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
Research has found that we decide how confident someone is in the first 200 milliseconds of hearing them speak, and we are very aware of vocal confidence, because we know that if they are vocally calm, we should be calm too because we're going to catch it. Here's the biggest mistake that people make on their very first impression, their very first word, "Hey, good morning," all the way up there at the very top. The reason for that, is because when we are anxious or afraid, our vocal cords tense and we tend to go up into the highest end of our range.
Now, we might be doing this simply to try to be friendly, but the problem is, is when we go that high, it signals vocal anxiety. I'll do this for you now so you can hear it, so right now I'm working really hard to keep my voice in the lowest end of its natural register. If I'm really nervous or afraid, I tend to go a little bit higher in my vocal range, I go up here. I also tend to get a little bit of vocal fry and I often lose breath. So if I were to be giving this entire podcast and this tone of voice, it would drive you crazy.

Sarah Lavonne:
Yes, completely. I don't trust you at all.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
No. And you're nervous. If you were listening to that, did you start to feel a little nervous?

Sarah Lavonne:
Yeah. I'm like, "Are you okay? Do I need to rub your back?"

Vanessa Van Edwards:
Yes. And so, an accidental mistake we do, is we give away our vocal confidence in the very first few seconds by saying, "Hello, good morning." And that actually signals anxiety. So what I want you to do instead, it's a very simple trick, is in your first word when you say your name and your first opening statement, I want you to speak on the outbreath. This means that instead of speaking on the top of your breath, so typically when we're anxious or nervous, we hold our breath and we talk up here. When you walk into a room or you see someone in the waiting room or you're walking into surgery, the very first thing I want you to do is take a deep breath and speak on the outbreath. Here's the difference, so here's the in breath, "Hello." Here's the outbreath, "Hello." They're both me, but sound totally different. So as your second and first word, it's speaking on the outbreath, "Good morning. Hello. So good to see you. How is everyone doing? How's mama?"
That is a much lower range, which immediately triggers confidence. It makes the listener go, "Oh, okay, she's relaxed or he's relaxed, I can be relaxed too." That's the first thing, is speaking your first few words on the outbreath, keeping your vocal cords nice and relaxed, not on the intake. And second is, when you introduce yourself, I want you to say your name and not ask it. We do a lot of lie detection research in our lab, and one thing that we learned very quickly, we played a fun game, we had people do two truths and a lie. They shared two truths about themselves and a lie, and we found that on the lie, people would accidentally ask their lie. Here's mine, see if you can guess my lie, okay?

Sarah Lavonne:
Okay.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
I'm from Los Angeles, I love dogs. My favorite food is cilantro. I don't like cilantro, right?

Sarah Lavonne:
That was clear.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
I hammed it up for you. What we heard over and over again is on the lie statements, when people were nervous and also they knew it wasn't true, they were asking, "Do you believe me?" They would go up at the end of their sentence or use the question inflection. There's more research on this. I was so intrigued by this, I said, "What is happening?" The question inflection, when it's accidentally used on a statement, it signals low confidence, anxiety, and sometimes deception. This is the problem when we are in a pattern of using this vocal tonality is we ask our name or we ask directives or we ask information about medication. What I want you to say is what I hear accidentally all the time is, "Hi, my name is Vanessa." And that's asking who you are instead of saying who you are.
And that triggers, in our prefrontal cortex, they've actually studied this, when we hear the question inflection accidentally used on a statement, it makes us go from listening, taking it in, to scrutinizing, judging, "Is that true? What's happening?" And so a very easy way you can disengage that is, say your statements, "Good morning, my name is Vanessa. I'm here to help you out today." As opposed to, "Good morning, my name is Vanessa. I'm happy to help you." And that's really hard because we get in the habit of trying to appease, but actually it takes confidence away from ourselves. Very long answer.

Sarah Lavonne:
Yep. Well, and on that introduction I'm thinking about, we talk a lot at Bundle Birth about introducing yourself and then knowing everyone in the room and their name. What would you have to say about I'm saying, "Hi, I'm Sarah."

Vanessa Van Edwards:
There you go.

Sarah Lavonne:
"And I'm so excited to be your nurse today." And then we go into introductions. How important is it that we know their name and we call them by name? What does that do?

Vanessa Van Edwards:
Okay, first, before we get to names, you said something really important. You said, "Good morning," or, "Hi, my name is Sarah," and you said, "I'm so excited to be your nurse today." Your first 10 words are actually very important for setting up... I know. And this is good by the way. Once you set yourself up for success, you're good. Once you have that initial tone and you get those words down, you're in, your first impression has been made, they have already decided how and competent you are, and then you can go about your business. That's the good thing is, you're busy. I saw, I couldn't believe, every one of my delivery nurses, I was like, "What's your shift today?" Because I was amazed at how long they're working, and I was like, "Are you okay? You've been on for 10 hours."

Sarah Lavonne:
And they do, yeah.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
"You've been on for 10 hours." I was like, "Do you want me to get a smoothie for you? My friend is bringing some over." You're busy, so you don't have time to do this the whole day, but you do have time to do it for the first 30 seconds, and that's really all it takes. You're keeping your tone low and using authoritative tone or non inflection for the first 10 seconds, done, easy. That's going to give you warmth and competence. Second, what are the first 10 words that you say? What research finds, is the words that we use trigger or cue for behavior. This study, I'm going to share with you, it's one of my favorites, super simple, they brought two groups into their lab, the first group walked in and they said, "Good morning. Today, you are playing the community game. Here are the rules to the game." The second group came in and they said, "Good morning. Today, you're playing the Wall Street game. Here are the rules to the game."
Now, the only difference was the name of the game. The games were exactly the same. They were playing both the same games, same researcher, same lab experiments, same table, but the only difference was the word community or Wall Street. People who were told they were playing the Wall Street game, it was like a prisoner's dilemma type of game, shared about one third of their profits. People who were told they were playing the community game, shared two thirds of their profits.

Sarah Lavonne:
Wow.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
This is an incredible finding, because it shows that the kinds of words we use change how people behave. This is most important in the first few words. So what happens is accidentally, if we're rushing or we're not thinking clearly, we throw away our first 10 words, like on a Zoom call, we get on and we say, "Can you hear me? Can you see me? Oh, hi." Well, your first 10 words have just disappeared. That opportunity has been gone. I want you to think about, what is your opening catchphrase? It's hard to redo this every time, you've got to be able to do this quickly. So for you as a nurse or someone who's working in labor and delivery, what feels authentic to you? What kind of words, what kind of emotions do you want people to think of when they think of you? Is it care? Is it support? Is it help? Is it reliability?
And I would try to use those words in your introduction. So I like, "Hi, I'm Sarah. I'm so excited to be your nurse today." So excited is great, that's a really good behavior cue, excited. Do you want to add, "I'm so honored to support you today."? Or, "I'm so excited to support and help you in your journey today." "I'm so thrilled to be here and I cannot wait to make your journey easier." Those words matter and people are going to associate them to you. So whatever that is for you, however you want people to feel, and I would recommend to get really advanced. We can do advanced, right?

Sarah Lavonne:
Yeah. We're very advanced around here.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
If I had to really make a wish, it would be at least one warm and at least one competent word. So support, excited, help, those are all warm words. Is there a competent word there, which is even nurse, actually, it's a very competent word, "I'm nurse Sarah or I'm your nurse today."

Sarah Lavonne:
Or like, "I'm really excited to keep you safe and help you have a really positive birth experience."

Vanessa Van Edwards:
That would have made me cry. I would've been, "Oh my goodness, thank you."

Sarah Lavonne:
Like, "I love her."

Vanessa Van Edwards:
Oh my gosh, that would've made me feel so good. And remember, the research shows that the kinds of words you use set people up to behave in that way. So if you want to wish someone a positive experience, if you want them to be more positive, using words like positive is going to work. Now, I have a caveat, if someone is in pain or they are scared, you can say words like positive, but actually what you want to give them is a relief emotion. So if someone's in pain or they're challenged, for example, I had many hours in pain, it would've not been happiness for me if someone was like, "Let's be positive. I'm going to make this a positive experience." I would've been like, "I am going to die." That's how I felt in that moment. But what would've felt really good is solution words, together, solve, fix, support. Those words are like, "Yes, we're going to figure this out together. I have so many ideas, we can try to give you some relief." Using those words before you do anything is going to provide relief.

Sarah Lavonne:
Well, and it takes reading the room that you walk in, and instead of it coming as this blanket statement, I'm going to see are you all chipper like, "Oh, I'm ready for my induction." Or are you writhing in pain? And, "I see that you're in pain and I'm here to help make it better in whatever I can do."

Vanessa Van Edwards:
Yes. Adding emphasis to your strategies and your knowledge, that works. I was so grateful for my nurses who provided solutions to me that I didn't know, everything from positions to this amazing peanut ball thing. Wow, that was magic. She just brought it out of a closet and it was like magic. Don't just bring it out, don't just say, "Okay, let's try this position." No, no, set them up for success, be like, "Okay, I have a great strategy that's helped relieve so much pain. I'm going to pull out this peanut ball, I swear it's magic, it's going to bring so much relief. Let's give it a try. If not this one, I have a ton of other ideas that will help." Even just talking about it that way gets the person excited, something's coming.

Sarah Lavonne:
Well, and it's warm and it's competence. It's "I got you. I got this. Don't even worry. But I also see you that you're in pain and let's find a solution together."

Vanessa Van Edwards:
Yes. One of my favorite nurses, her name was Naville. She came at me and she was like, "Okay. All right girl, I've been doing this for 10 years. I have at least 30 things we're going to try today, and one of them is going to work, if not more of them." And I was like, "Yes."

Sarah Lavonne:
Totally.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
There was something about her energy and excitement, both warm and competent, she was excited, but she had a specific number of strategies. I was like... We didn't even get to number 11. One of the first 10 worked. I don't even know if she had really that many, but her telling me that, gave me so much hope and relief and it was that perfect blend of warmth and competence.

Sarah Lavonne:
Yep. I love that to just weed it down to the basics and walk in when you pause at your door, think warm and competent and really taking into our hearts that initial first impression being so important. We overlook it so much.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
It's going to set you up for success. Now, I didn't answer your question about names. Okay, so let's say that you walked in, your tone is warm and competent, your first few words are warm and competent, you set yourself up for success. Names, names are so important for people not feeling like they're one of many. There's some research that shows we get a little dopamine hit when we hear our own name. If you can take the time to remember someone's name, especially with emotion, I think that's really helpful. So if dad is named Scott, so my husband is named Scott, and someone's like, "Scott, will you grab that?" Or, "Scott, I'm going to have you hold her leg," or whatever it is, add a qualifier, add a highlighter, "Okay, Scott, you look real strong. Come on over here, I want you to hold this leg and give her so much support." Adding that, it sets him up to be strong. And also help too, 'My husband's strong and he's going to hold my leg."

Sarah Lavonne:
Totally. Again, this just goes back to everything that we talk about, is that every single moment matters, and these are the nuanced level up skills that take you from doing your job like a robot to really being incredible at your job, right?

Vanessa Van Edwards:
Yes, that is it. We're talking about good to great. You're there, you're helping, you already are warm and competent. You are already good and doing good for everyone you're supporting. The difference is, can I make this experience a great experience? And also I do believe warmth and competence is a cycle, so if you show up as warm and competent, they are more warm and competent, which makes you more warm and competent. The better we all are, the more we feed off of each other. I also wanted to mention a couple of nonverbal cues, I was thinking about this, the podcast, I was like, "What?"

Sarah Lavonne:
I love it.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
"What's it I love?" And I don't remember, I blacked out during some parts of my labor.

Sarah Lavonne:
Of course.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
But I remember, it's a lot of touching. I had two vaginal births and a lot of touching and a lot of openness and a lot of nakedness. One thing that I noticed really helped me, and I'm not a huge touch person, so I think this is saying a lot coming from me, it was hard to go from zero to a 100 like, "Hi, I'm your nurse. Now, I'm going to touch you and feel your cervix." That was a lot. I noticed that it made me feel more comfortable when someone would do what I now call, I literally created this term from being in labor, a nonverbal bridge, so this is basically a pre-touch touch. This is basically saying, "I'm going to warm up and I'm coming into your space, but I'm going to have to do it quickly."
So what happens is, in human behavior, there's something called proxemics. Proxemics is the study of space. There are four zones, public zone, five to seven feet away or over seven feet away, the social zone, so three to five feet away, the personal zone, this is where we have most of our one-to-one conversations, about foot and a half to three feet away, and the intimate zone, that's foot and a half or closer, pre-kissing, also, sometimes labor and delivery, depending on how close you get. We don't like someone to go from public to intimate, it really scares us. It's better if someone can go slowly in those things. So what I would recommend is if you can, when you're introducing yourself, lean in, give a touch on the arm, lean in, give a touch on maybe the side of someone's body, that's a safe space, "So nice to meet you. I'm so happy to support you today. You let me know if you need anything." On the hello and on the goodbye.
If it's comfortable for you to come in and touch someone on the shoulder or touch someone on the hand and say that on the hello, or, "I'm here for you, you let me know if you need anything, just push that little button and I'll be here," a little touch on the shoulder on the way out. That is a nonverbal bridge, so it makes it easier for you to touch them later. And second, it creates oxytocin, which means a lot of things, but in social settings, it makes us feel comfortable.

Sarah Lavonne:
Yeah. Well, and I think about specifically to a cervical exam, one of the things that we teach, that instead of fingers in, that almost there's a sit, there's a, "Let's chat for a second," and that to me, when I think about the social zones, it really makes sense because you're going from public to the next level, to then intimate versus one to the next. And then maybe a touch on the inner thigh, "You tell me when you're ready." That all aligns with the science of why we're teaching that. That intuitively makes more sense to all of us.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
And even lightly checking an IV as a way to safely touch before you get to the inner thigh, like, "How is this? How are you feeling? Are you comfortable with this? How's the tape feel?" Wonderful. Now touch the arm, the arm is less intimate than the thigh. Then the thigh, "Okay, are you ready for me? I want you to take a deep..." Those extra few seconds are going to help A, her relax, which you want her to do, and B really helps facilitate a lot of trust.

Sarah Lavonne:
Yep. You mentioned oxytocin. We love oxytocin, and when we think of oxytocin, we think of contractions, breastfeeding, the medical stuff. But you actually talk about oxytocin. I think it's so fun when we can make these connections, because you know a lot about oxytocin, but maybe you're not thinking contractions every time you're reading about it. What would you have to tell us? I'm sure it changed your whole mind related to it.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
I love oxytocin on always. But social oxytocin from a social perspective, when we are connecting with someone, oxytocin is coursing through our body. It's produced primarily through touch and eye contact. It can also be produced for mutual laugh moments. It can be produced if we get an aha moment. But the most is physical touch, like a handshake, a hug, arm touch, then mutual eye contact, and that produces the feeling of belonging. You feel like, okay like, "I'm accepted here. I'm okay. I'm safe." Because nature is very smart, if we're within someone's proximity and they're making eye contact with us, they're probably not an enemy.
A little note here is, you are doing a lot, you have a lot of things to check, to just make 10 to 20 seconds of eye contact in the beginning or during important points can produce oxytocin enough where you can then go and check the computer, ask questions, do the things around the room. But try to get 10 to 20 seconds at the beginning and 10 to 20 seconds, if you need to really relay a message. If you need to really relay a message, that can be pushing message or a medical message or a medicine message, you want to deliver it with eye contact and you want to deliver it with a downward inflection, "I need you to push." "I need to push." Even that difference, it's going to make someone feel like, "Okay, we're in it and I got to do it. That's two things together are really important.

Sarah Lavonne:
Well, and that eye contact, I think that first impression being the first moment, where just we talk about just slow down, it will take you to see the human in the room and look them in the eye, and now you're saying, looking them in the eye is a quick nursing intervention to help boost oxytocin connection between you and them, which is only going to help with rapport, but also has physiologic effect on labor. That to me, is a massive sweet spot and hack for labor.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
Everything we're talking about, I think it only takes 30 seconds, literally. These are only things... I know you're busy, so 30 seconds in the beginning, possibly 30 seconds when an intervention is happening.

Sarah Lavonne:
I love it. Well, thank you so incredibly much for your time, for your expertise. This is the most recharge type conversation I've had all day, and I will have all day. We are so grateful for everything that you're contributing to the world of connection and cues, charisma, your books, all of the science-based tasks for really leveling up how we carry ourselves through the world, but then specifically for us as nurses, how we level up our care to our families that naturally is going to downregulate their nervous system and actually help their labor progress and move forward. If they wanted to find you, where can they find you?

Vanessa Van Edwards:
Oh, yes, so scienceofpeople.com. I have a free weekly newsletter, I share one social science-based tip every week. And then I have a ton of free content on YouTube. I post a video every week, and I've been posting since 2007.

Sarah Lavonne:
God bless you.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
Yeah. It's my mission to get out so much free content, you would be good for life, if you could. So on YouTube, if you want to watch YouTube. Also read my books on Audible if you like audiobooks. And I'm all over the socials @VVanEdwards.

Sarah Lavonne:
Awesome. We'll link everything down below in the show notes.

Vanessa Van Edwards:
Thanks for all you do.

Sarah Lavonne:
Thanks for spending your time with us during this episode of Happy Hour with Bundle Birth Nurses. If you liked what you heard, it helps us both, if you subscribe, rate, leave a raving review and share this episode with a friend. If you want more from us, head to bundlebirthnurses.com or follow us on Instagram. Now it's your turn to go and pause at the door, thinking about that first impression, really taking it seriously, and then be ready to communicate immediately, warmth and competence. You got this, and we'll see you next time.