The Importance of Rapport

People like people they are like!

Imagine that you are presenting a comprehensive treatment plan.  I am sure most of you would do a pretty good job and likely have a high success rate.  Now imagine that you only speak English, and your patient only speaks German – how successful do you think you would be?  How would that difference between the two of you affect your success rate?

Let’s consider another common example.  There are two things you are never supposed to discuss at a dinner party – religion and politics.  Have you ever wondered why?  Virtually everyone has a different feeling or belief when it comes to religion and politics.  While two different people may both be Liberals/Democrats or Conservatives/Republicans their respective political beliefs will likely be very different in the details.  If one is “left” leaning and the other “right” leaning, then more than just the details will be different.  The point is that such discussions emphasize the differences between parties and give each party some sense of disagreement or discord.  As a young adult would you have voluntarily dated someone with whom you had a sense of disagreement and discord – likely not.  We seek out people in our lives with whom we believe we can have some kind of harmony.

There are some people with whom you will have a natural harmony and rapport.  Your close friends are likely people with whom you have a natural harmony.  There are other people however with whom you have little natural harmony but with whom it is beneficial to have a relationship with good rapport.  This could include co-workers, neighbours, classmates, mothers-in-law, etc.  How do we have good relationships with these people?

Consider my opening comment “People like people they are like”.  Using a little mental algebra, we can also say “People will like us if they think we are like them”.   The question then becomes how do we encourage people to think we are like them?  In very general terms the answer is easy – we pay attention to what they are like, and we mimic them.  Using the case presentation example above, this would be like you learning to speak German so that you and your patient could be using the same language.  Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to build rapport.

If you Google “How to Build Rapport” you will get about 178,000,000 responses in 0.51 seconds (at least I did).  Go check it out for yourself – I am not going to paraphrase Google.  Chances are you will not have to look much further than the first or second page to find out everything you need to know about how to build rapport.  Here, however, is one very good reason why you should learn to do this: About ten or fifteen years ago, I had a client who owned a practice with about 14,000 active patients.  He also had four active associates and had helped at least three other dentists start their own 1,800 patient practices in the same town and with his blessings.  One day I asked him what the secret to his success was.  He didn’t really know other than to say that all he did was to stop and say hello to anyone in reception whenever he went by.  He was a cheery guy and was building rapport.  He also sold his practice for the highest eight-figure value of any single practice that I have ever sold.

An added benefit of learning how to build rapport is that you can use it everywhere both in the office and outside of the office, particularly at home.

Closing Thoughts – After working exclusively with dentists for the last 40 years I know that every practice has some upside potential and in many cases lots of upside potential.  Learning to build rapport will definitely enhance your patient relationships as well as your personal relationships.

Practice value is a function of practice profitability so if you can enhance your patient relationships you will enhance your cash flow and the value of your practice.  Check back often because there will always be something of value here whether you are selling or not.

Contact:  Written by Derek Hill CPA., CA., Broker of Record

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