How to Build Rapport With Clients

October 21, 2021
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Building connections with your clients isn’t always automatic. Sometimes, a client in pain is a little more reserved, moody, or outspoken. And, while it may feel like you’ll never make a connection with a difficult client, it’s not impossible. It may just take a little more effort or time. So, what can you do to make building a rapport easier?

7 Ways to Build Trust and Rapport With Clients

1. Listen

Before your clients can trust you, they must feel heard. This requires your full attention when attending to a client. Active listening includes proper eye contact and verbal responses to client comments and concerns. By using this strategy, you can demonstrate your undivided attention and interest.

Practicing active listening can not only help you better understand your client’s concerns, but it can also help you become a better nurse. You may find yourself distracted by multitasking while listening to an individual talk about symptoms or tell stories. This can cause you to miss key information that could have helped you develop a care plan. By actively listening, you can stay focused on the task at hand — listening to your client.

2. Find Common Ground

For client and their families, it can be hard to remember that you’re a person with a family just like they are. That’s because the role of being a nurse comes with a certain perception that is intimidating to some clients. This makes it more difficult to communicate with them because they either don’t think that you understand their point of view, or they think you’ve seen/heard worse.

By finding common interests, sharing stories, or making your conversations a little more personable — while still remaining professional — you can break down those barriers. You’ll be able to connect with your client on another level and make them more comfortable with talking to you and expressing their concerns. This is especially true with pediatric clients who may put you on a pedestal with other adults.

3. Follow Through

While it’s always important to follow through with your promises, it is especially crucial when building rapport with your clients. Oftentimes, they can feel alone. And, they may not know who they can trust to be in their corner. By promising to spend a little extra time with them and then following through on those promises, you’ll begin building trust with your client.

If your ability to complete a task changes, don’t hesitate to communicate this with the client. You have thousands of things to do during a shift, so it may not always be possible to fulfill a promise. Just try not to over-promise and under-deliver. Keeping your word can go a long way with your clients.

4. Communicate

Communication is key with any relationship. So, it’s no surprise that the same applies to building rapport with your clients. When you first meet your client, you can quickly establish a snapshot of their life by asking questions and learning about their hobbies, friends, family, and their day-to-day activities.

Being a good communicator as a nurse isn’t just about making connections with your clients. It’s also clearly educating clients on the various health challenges they are facing. Keep them updated on their current healthcare journey and establish goals. You can update them as mini-goals are achieved to help them feel like they are making progress.

5. Minimize Jargon

While minimizing jargon may seem like a tip for pediatric clients, the same applies to adults and geriatric clients as well. Nobody likes to feel like they’re dumb, especially when it comes to their own health.

In some cases, jargon can even be detrimental to your client’s care. If jargon does come up in conversations, take some extra time to explain what the unfamiliar term means. Also, understand that even common terms used in hospitals or medical facilities may be unfamiliar to the general public. Find unique ways to explain complex procedures and health complications. This will give your client a better understanding of their health care journey and support open communication — which is vital to building rapport.

6. Show Respect

Showing your client respect can do wonders for your rapport. That’s because maintaining a respectful disposition creates a professional yet compassionate relationship. Showing respect means remaining calm and friendly no matter how stressful a situation can get and showing empathy during an incredibly important or stressful moment.

Another way to show your client respect, especially when working in high nurse-to-client ratios, is to call them by their name. This is extremely effective if you’re able to memorize their name and use it without confirming with their chart. Also, try to remember details about previous conversations to show them you were listening and are retaining the information they provide.

7. Empathize

While no client will expect you to know exactly what they’re going through, they will need an empathetic ear that doesn’t mind their complaining. Feeling unwell, especially when the odds are against them, isn’t easy. Your clients may have a lot of bad days where all they want to do is have a pity party. You’ll need to be able to empathize with your client without being emotionally overwhelmed.

No matter how much you have going on — both personally and professionally — it’s important that you’re mentally present while talking with your client. But, you also can’t allow their issues or attitude to affect you emotionally. It may take time to find that balance, but your end goal should be to make objective decisions while advocating for your client.

Join the Care Options For Kids Team!

Are you ready for meaningful work that comes with benefits and not burnout? Join the compassionate care team that helps children and families live their best lives. Our clinicians provide best-in-class pediatric nursing, therapy, and school-based services. We bring individualized care to children where they live, work, and play. We have opportunities in homes, schools, and clinics across the country.

Apply at Care Options for Kids now. We make it easy to get started, so you can begin making a difference as soon as possible.