Practices have their doors open to the world usually, and all manner of people can choose to walk through those doors. And it would probably be fair to say that there is a certain percentage who you do not have instant chemistry with, right? Sometimes they are intensely shy, sometimes they look and smell unkempt, others are a bit (or very) rude, some are the strong silent types and you can’t tell what they are thinking or get an answer out of them.
However, they are a person and therefore important, and they have need of your service or they wouldn’t be there. So what are you going to do to establish a bond between this human being and your practice and turn it into a productive and pleasant experience?
In addition, making friendly small talk may not be in your normal comfort zone either. But, it IS necessary and an excellent practice-building skill to acquire.
Spark a good feeling
In the last couple of years, I have repeatedly experienced staff in clothing stores welcoming me as I walked into the store and coming over to let me know they really like the skirt/dress/sweater/coat that I am wearing, or they like my haircut, and so on. It sparked an instant good feeling in me about the salesperson and the store.
This is a very successful way of breaking the ice between you and the patient or client. Even if you only do this in your head: notice 1 – 3 things about the person that you like. This instantly warms you up a bit toward the person. They start to become more real or 3 dimensional to you. If you compliment them on these things, they too will feel warmer towards you. You have to practice this a bit until it becomes second nature. Post notes to remind yourself to do this each day until it is a habit.
The next step is to be very interested in this person. Be curious. People love attention and being asked about themselves … so ask questions. Not the technical ones you need to ask later … just start off with personal ones to know something about them and to show that you are interested in them. Start building a relationship. Here are a few sample topics and questions:
- Do you have kids? (How old, etc.)
- Do you work or live near here?
- Did you have a good time over the holidays? Any great gifts?
- What sport are you most interested in?
- Do you cook? What type of food do you love the most?
- What was your favourite vacation ever?
- What would be your dream vacation? Why?
- What is your favourite hobby or pastime?
By knowing something about this person, it will help you be much more in sync with them and it should help them open up a bit or a lot. It also doesn’t have to be a lot of questions or a long dissertation. Acknowledge them very well to let them know you heard their answer (“wow, that’s cool! Thank you for telling me about that” and then redirect them onto the technical matters.
Because you see so many people in a day, individuals can become just names and faces passing through the practice. Knowing WHO they are on a personal level can help you avoid the conveyor belt syndrome.