As a caregiver, building a strong rapport with your patients can make all the difference in your relationship. Your patients can and will see how you behave towards them, and this will impact the working relationship you have with them.

How do you build rapport with a patient? Using interpersonal skills such as active listening, mirroring, empathy, and excellent communication skills can help you develop a strong rapport as a caregiver.

Active Listening

One way to show your patient you are there for them is to demonstrate active listening. Active listening is when you listen to understand as opposed to listening to respond. Very often, when listening to another, people tend to start formulating a response instead of making sure they understand what the other told them. Using active listening means listening to the person talking, repeating back what they said to you in a way that lets them know you heard them, then clarifying if you misunderstand something. Active listening shows your patient that you care enough to try to understand them. This helps build trust, and your rapport will deepen as the patient trusts you more.

Mirroring

Mirroring is a skill that can be used to subconsciously indicate to your patient that you are willing to put in work to make them feel comfortable. While it is often used without thinking in everyday situations, but you can intentionally mirror your patient’s body language, tone, and volume to make them feel at ease around you. Be careful how you do it, though. Mirroring can actually have the opposite effect if you are too obvious about it, or there is no basis for trust already in place. Try to understand your patient a bit before you engage in mirroring techniques for the best outcome.

Empathy and Compassion

Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else is feeling. Employing empathy in your interactions with your patient will help them feel understood, and it will build trust and rapport with your patient. When your patient is becoming frustrated or acting out, you can use empathy to recognize where your patient is coming from. This can help you not react to them with frustration of your own, but instead treat them with kindness and understanding. Your patient will trust you more, and the relationship will deepen.

Encouragement

Another option when the patient starts to become frustrated is to encourage them instead. While you are showing them that you understand why they are frustrated, you can also use that opportunity to provide them with some gentle encouragement. Usually, you will not want to push the patient too hard, as that can break down trust and rapport between you, but some gentle encouragement can make a difference in their attitude. It helps the patient trust you more when they can see you are on their side.

Being Trustworthy

It should go without saying, but the biggest thing you can do to ensure your patient trusts you enough to build a good rapport is to keep your word. When you tell the patient that you will do something for them or find information for them, follow through. Your patients will remember if you made a promise you don’t follow through with. This can cause serious deterioration of your relationship with the patient, especially if this occurs early in your time together. Try not to give them answers you are unsure of, and instead, take the time to research and find the correct answer, letting the patient know you will let them know when you do. Don’t be afraid to tell them you don’t know an answer.