As a therapist, I work with many different types of people and often encounter several different personalities. It’s important that I make connections with my clients, and in order to do so, I try to do the following things to put my clients at ease and help them feel comfortable:
#1: When first meeting a client, I shake their hand. I understand that there are concerns for some because of germs, etc., but I feel comfortable enough to make the first attempt for contact and believe it to be a sign of respect. It’s a good way to make an initial connection, as you are engaging the other person and in a sense, inviting them in with a warm greeting.
#2: I try to make eye contact as much as possible. It’s important that a person knows that you are interested and engaged in what they are saying, and by making eye contact, you are able to make an additional connection.
#3: I also try to look for some sort of personal item that displays something the person likes, an interest, or something to comment on in order to make an initial connection. For example, I was meeting with a potential client who I was not familiar with at all. He was hesitant to give much information away or make eye contact with me, so I looked for something of interest to discuss with him. I noticed he was wearing a class ring of the college that I had gone to as well, so I brought that up to him. His demeanor immediately changed and he became more talkative. Because we were able to share a personal connection, we were able to create a more open relationship, and at least had a base to begin conversations with each time we met.
#4: Although you have to be careful when sharing personal information with clients, it can be professional to share an interest that you have or something you’ve experienced that day in order to connect with the person you’re meeting with. Some people are not natural conversation starters or may feel uncomfortable speaking to someone they’ve just met, so when you share something personal, it can be seen as a sign of trust and of your willingness to be slightly vulnerable. Of course, in a professional environment, you never want to over share with clients (do not discuss your own marital issues, financial problems, self-esteem issues, etc.). Simply creating a conversation with your client will help develop an instant connection, and can help your client feel comfortable as time goes on.
It is very easy to use these tips whether working as a therapist, teacher, doctor, salesperson, or in your everyday life when meeting someone new. Making a connection with someone is very simple if you’re willing to take the chance to do so.