Entering Rapport (Issue 552)

In which we are reminded to “slide into the water” when we greet our clients and prospects rather than arriving in our meetings like a “cannonball.”

Just before Christmas, one of our extended family “took sick,” as the saying goes.  We’re a hands-on family so, rather than send her to hospital, we set up shop at the house and tended to her ourselves, supported by visiting nurses and her physician (by telephone, in case you were giddily expecting house calls).

Tending to the seriously ill is not for sissies as any of us who are parents or healthcare workers or spouses of health care workers or clergy can attest. As hours turn to days, the daily routine draws enormous reserves of energy and, despite multiple family members’ involvement, wears out the family care team. People get a little jumpy.

Behold the entrance of visiting nurses.  We were visited by three different nurses during the space of Christmas week. (I came to refer to them as Christmases Past, Present, and Future, but never mind, that would make me Scrooge, and that’s a longer story).

We were grateful and delighted to see them, wonderful care givers all,  yet… they arrived LOUD.  While their cars eased silently into our driveway, their voices boomed “hellos” and “how are things goings” as they crossed the threshold. At each entrance, all but the closest-to-door family member scattered like mice fleeing arriving cats. Eyes rolling, we’d creep back to connect with the nurse and discuss the situation.

Contrast this with the Concord Fire Department’s entrance.  There was a point at which we needed help…. FAST… so we called for EMTs.  They showed up (in two trucks in six minutes, mind you) sans sirens (happily), truck lights blazing. Five burley guys at the door… and you could barely hear them when they came into the house. Footsteps muffled by rubber shoe soles, greeting voices soft, movements fluid, questions focused.

Ministrations successful, they retreated to their bright-lit conveyances.  We family members looked at each other in amazement. “Who would have thought…?”

Best case, we’re visiting clients who are healthy, perhaps even vigorous and robust – muffled shoes and soft greetings not expected. However, big voiced, supremely confident, finger crushing, ‘I’m in charge” entrances may not be the best, either.

For us, as with the visiting nurses and Concord EMTs, there’s a two-second “upon entrance” moment to assess “the vibe” in the room and either align with it (create  rapport – relationship marked by harmony,  conformity, or affinity) or consciously break it.  Unless we’re REALLY skilled at rapport breaking and consciousness changing, the best bet is to “align” – establish rapport, glide with the clients at their speed for a bit –  then lead them to a different pace.


P.S.  All is well now at our house, all is as it should be.   Happy New Year to all!

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