Utilizing Empathetic Listening and Rapport with Patients

Jon LensingJune 25, 20203 minute read

As a healthcare professional, you are interacting with patients daily. From the moment they enter the door to their exit with a treatment plan in hand, your interaction with patients may be as significant as the guidance you give them. Have you taken the time to understand how empathetic listening – the ability to really listen and understand a patient’s concerns – and familiar rapport can benefit your patients and team members in your practice?

Building rapport through empathetic listening is one of those skills that must be practiced to master. Here are five ways that using empathetic listening and building rapport can help you build strong relationships with your clients, leading to healthy and productive visits.

5 Tips to Increase Patient Rapport

1. Consistent Eye Contact

It may seem silly, but eye contact is a lost art in today’s modern world of individualism. More and more individuals are losing the ability to look one another in the eye. However, looking directly into patients’ eyes while talking or listening to them will communicate care, interest, and empathy to what they are telling you. Your insistence on eye contact may be so unusual to them that they will remember for days.

2. Practice Empathetic Listening

The ability to show empathy can be seen in a physician’s showing understanding and concern for a patient’s feelings and fears. The power of compassion is what sets great physicians above mediocre healthcare workers – as the ability to connect with the struggles of another individual is vital for allowing trust and transparency. The skill of practicing empathetic listening can help with offering better personalized patient care, as you are showing that you care for and understand the patient’s personal view, world, and difficulties.

3. Encourage Honest & Open Channels Of Communication

Have you ever known someone that you inherently trust due to their willingness to communicate openly with you? A recent study has shown that open and honest communication is a leading factor in patient trust and well-being when working with healthcare professionals. With an increasing distrust in institutions, patients need to feel that they are heard and can speak openly with their physician to progress forward in treatment. If you are looking for a great way to encourage and engage your patients, make sure to let them know that your door is always open to their fears, concerns, and questions as they journey with you to reclaim their health and well-being.

4. Encourage Empathetic Listening Through Active Listening

A great way to encourage empathetic listening with a patient is by taking part in an action known as active listening. With active listening, you are showing a patient that you are 100% engaged with them amid their visit. While many physicians may assume that they are seen as empathetic initially, this may not be the case. Patients often enter the office with a feeling of insecurity or intrusion on the doctor’s time. To show that you are actively listening and engaging with empathy, try the following:

  • Listen carefully to each element of a patient’s conversation
  • Repeat back what you have heard to the patient word for word. “So, what I hear you saying is...”
  • Ask the patient, “Is that correct?” to validate their feelings and ask their opinion on your perception.

Active listening practics show that you are fully engaged in the conversation by repeating what the patient already said. This simple action speaks volumes to patients in building empathy and rapport for open and honest physician-patient relationships.

5. Do What You Say You Will Do

The final tip for utilizing empathetic listening and rapport with patients is as easy as that – be a person of your word. You would be amazed at how following up to confirm the next appointment, test results, or prescription ordering can encourage patients and build rapport. Going the extra mile to show that you kept your word in the visit is a great way to increase rapport and confirm that you are empathetic to your clients’ needs because you are following through with your guidance. This trust will take your relationship with your patients far and help you build confidence in both treatment plans and difficult diagnosis conversations. Clients who trust their healthcare professional are more likely to follow through with advice and treatment guidance when they have shown integrity and honesty.

Building Trust Begins With A Single Step

The above tips are simple ways to begin using empathetic listening and rapport building to build better physician-patient relationships that lead to effective visits and treatments. By taking the time to practice one or two methods each day, you can begin to develop routines that will help you better serve your patients and build both client and brand trust in your community. Everyone has that doctor that they recommend – develop your practice to that level of trust and commitment with the steps listed above!

If you are ready to take your medical profession to the next level, check out more resources such as these on OpenLoop online. At OpenLoop, we are committed to guiding qualified healthcare professionals to quality, needed positions around the country through a growing network of professionals and facilities. Find more resources for growing your expertise at openloophealth.com

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Jess Greiner Director, Marketing