Building rapport with patients is vital to the success of an aesthetic medical practice. In order to understand our patients’ needs on a deeper level, we must build commonality, appreciation, understanding and trust. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a psychological approach to performance that leverages preferred patterns of behavior to build rapport.
As a sales expert and certified NLP Trainer, my unique background allows me to see how NLP can help you understand your patient’s needs on a deeper level and achieve better patient outcomes.
In this article, we will explore three easy ways to implement NLP into your aesthetic practice.
The next time you find yourself in conversation with a group of people, take note of the group’s physicality. Is everyone in the group standing (or sitting) the same way? Are people generally on the same energy level? Does everyone seem comfortable? These subtle cues can tell you how you might adjust your behavior to mirror theirs, allowing you to build rapport with them.
When you are in a patient consultation, try subtly adjusting your body language to match theirs. For example, if they are relaxed and leaning back as they speak, relax your posture and mirror their tone and speed of speech. If the patient is nervous or guarded, this surprisingly still helps to build rapport. Doing it this way, rather than trying to disarm them by being more positive, will make them feel more comfortable.
Speak Their Language
Recently at a restaurant, a friend of mine perused the menu. “That looks good,” she said. Another friend, viewing the same menu item chimed in,“Yes, that sounds great.”
In effect, they are saying the same thing, however, they are expressing themselves through different modalities. The first is visual and the second is auditory. In NLP, it is important to recognize not just what a person says, but how they say it. As humans, we experience everything through our five senses; sight, sound, feel, taste and smell. Generally, people tend to be visual, auditory, or kinesthetic communicators.
An example of this would be a patient describing an aesthetic procedure as either “looking”,“sounding”, or “feeling” good to them. Let’s say they describe it as “sounding” good to them. Your response should use other auditory words such as “I’m happy to hear that”. Though it may seem subtle, matching the patient’s preferred modality is another way of building rapport.
In my experience, we often repeat back what our patients tell us to ensure we understand their needs. But we often paraphrase, in an attempt to interpret what they are saying. When we do this, we break rapport with the patient.
I prefer using a technique called “parrot-phrasing”. This involves using the exact language a patient uses, rather than reinterpreting their words. People choose the words they use because they are important to them on a deeper level. For example, if a patient describes wanting to feel re-energized, that is not the same as wanting to feel more energetic.
NLP incorporates a broad range of tools and techniques, allowing you to build stronger relationships with your patients. Rapport building is one of these tools and takes practice to master. To learn more or schedule a complimentary session, contact me.