When an old or new client walks into your office, is engagement or re-engagement really necessary? Do you need to create an atmosphere of engagement every time you see a client?
Stephen Rollnick, co-author and founder of Motivational Interviewing, says that engagement is 20 percent of the conversation. If no engagement, no conversation.
A number of years back my beloved dermatologist retired and I found myself interviewing new ones to create the alliance I felt with the retired one. One of the first ones I had an appointment with said hello upon entering the room, immediately turned her back to me and asked questions while writing on the chart. I never returned as there was no engagement, warmth or alliance created.
Although you think you know someone well or have an ongoing relationship with them, research shows you need to re-engage a client each time you see them. The 4 qualities of positive engagement are the spirit of Motivational Interviewing: partnership (versus being the expert), acceptance of the client’s choices no matter how unhealthy, compassion (imagining yourself as the client), and evocation – drawing out the client’s own insight.
When creating engagement ask yourself: how comfortable is my client talking to me, and do I understand this person’s perspective? Do my clients feel welcome, comfortable, and hopeful?
Bill Miller, co-author and founder of Motivational Interviewing states “when you speak to clients in a Motivational Interviewing style you observe them relax and see their body language change in the first few minutes.” The language of Motivational Interviewing helps create engagement from the start of a conversation, putting a client at ease, and creating an environment to help them think about their own reasons for change.
An easy way to create engagement is stating “thanks for coming in today,” or “what would be most helpful today?” Then just reflect what you hear to create engagement, focus and momentum towards change. You’ll leave your office at the end of the day feeling less frustrated and more motivation to create a difference in the world, and your clients will want to return given the atmosphere you’ve created in your office.