Rapport is defined as “a relationship of mutual understanding or trust and agreement between people.” Rapport is reflected through a commonality of perspective, a feeling of being “in sync,” or being on the same wavelength as the person with whom you are talking. As such, rapport is one of the most important characteristics of unconscious human interaction.
Effective communications are a crucial factor in building rapport and should be pursued with everyone within a healthcare organization – patients, families, visitors, and co-workers. In particular for our patients, establishing rapport helps the person to feel that the worker is truly interested in their care and is capable of meeting their needs. In fact, good communications are so important that they are also considered a key to safe patient care; which can translate into decreased legal claims. The best case scenario is for the patient to feel that “we were all in this together.”
To promote positive interactions, the message through both verbal & non-verbal communications should be believable and genuine. If it is perceived as such, the other person will be more trusting. The interesting caveat is that trust has the unusual characteristic of being granted upfront and then tested afterward.
Many things can adversely affect the quality of interactions between two people. Cultural, educational, racial, religious, and social differences are just a few of the considerations to be taken into account. Sometimes differences in attitudes and behavior become such a conflict that communication becomes almost impossible. To avoid this, there are some simple steps to help create a sense of rapport:
- Create a relaxed, open atmosphere for the interaction.
- Show humility but be yourself.
- Be sincere and honest.
- Mirror the person’s body language in a positive way.
- Put the patient and family first.
- Acknowledge the feelings behind the person’s words.
- When possible, get at eye level with the person.
- Pay attention to non-verbal cues for both you and the other person.
- Keep an open posture, without arms folded or legs crossed.
- Maintain appropriate eye contact.
- Use a tone of voice and rate of speech that is understandable by the other person.
- Make accommodations as needed for any barriers to communications.
- Ask questions and request descriptions to verify that your message is understood.
Senior Executive Consultant
Medical Management Services