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Sunday, July 7, 2013

10 tips to get your patients to like you

How is it that some people are likable and others are not?  I like to think of my dad as the most likable person ever.  George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are both extremely likable.  You may not like their politics, but if you ever met either one of them you'd like them as a person.  You could have a beer with either one.

So what is it that makes a person likable?  Here are some things I've observed (some ideas come from this post).  If you want to be popular:

1.  Show the other person he's valuable:  Pleasantly walk up to that person and shake his hand.  Put down your shoulders, relax, and smile.

2.  Allow the other person to talk:  Ask the person questions, like "How's it going in your life?" This puts the focus on them, and encourages them to talk about what they feel comfortable with

3.  Don't be afraid to touch people:  Upon meeting them a gentle hand shake will do, and when you're leaving a simple pat on the shoulder.  When I'm in a patient's room, I like to touch the hand of my lady patients and say something like, "If there's anything I can get for you any time, let me know."  A pat on the shoulder or back breaks down the barriers and shows that you are a likable person.

4.  Pay attention to personal space:  After the initial touch, back off to a good distance so you are not breathing in that person's personal space.

5.  Be face to face with your patient:  If your patient is lying in bed, pull up a chair and sit at eye level with the patient.  This is also important if the patient is in a wheelchair.

6.  Look into the eyes:  This goes with #5.  Looking into a person's eyes shows you are confident and know what you are doing.

7.  Do not talk about yourself:  One of the annoying things about conversing with a likable person is you walk away feeling you had a good conversation, but you didn't learn a thing about that person.  That's because they made the focus of the conversation on YOU.  They opened the door, lightened the mood, to allow you to do the talking.  People love talking about themselves.  They love talking about their kids.  Which brings me to the next step.

8.  Once you learn something about the person, ask them more questions about it.  How many kids did you have? How long have you been married? Also see #10 below.

9.  Look around the room for things to talk about:  If there is a Bible in the room, they probably would love to talk about a Biblical passage.  Ask something like: "So, what is your favorite Bible passage?" Sometimes I ask, "So, if you met an atheist on the street, what Bible passage would you recommend to encourage him to further investigate Jesus?"  Perhaps the person is reading a book you can ask about.  Perhaps there is a picture in the room, an object.

10.  Pick up cues in words spoken:  As the patient is speaking, he may note things that you can question him about to further the discussion.  TV interviewers use this when interviewing.


Unknown said...

Really cool you are addressing the point of being a likeable character to their patients. Some of the advice offered does have some contraindications so I'll mention them here- When asking patient about their personal life be prepared to for them to get upset due to a bad home life. When asking about siblings, children, and other close family members you may be bringing up a sore subject. Try to focus conversation on cues they give you. Try to ask questions of their interest, if you know a little about what their talking about the conversation should be able to go back and forth. If they are into something completely foreign to you, it's time to learn. Just kick back and ask questions. There are those occasions in which the person does need a very intimate conversation to help them grasp their situation. So keeping yourself attentive to what type of role you must play is key. Some guest get offended if they see you are very cheery giving a neb to their diminishing loved one. The most important thing to recognize when having a conversation with a patient is to understand that persons situation from their eyes, not yours.

Rick Frea said...

Duly noted. And ironically the topic of a post I have coming out next week. How to spark a conversation in a room with a gloomy milieu may be another upcoming post.

Rick Frea said...

Actually, I think these tips work in a gloomy room too. The key is to play off cues.