Promoting Open Communication During an Interview Part 2

I have experienced one specific difference between male and female clients: There have been occasions when female clients have expressed that after several visits of telling me much detail about their life (which is quite usual in the process of homeopathic treatment) they don’t know anything about me. A feeling of balance seems to be missing. I have not yet heard this from a male client.

Establishing trust without authority

Even though I was taught “The client is not interested in your life,” and “Don’t talk about yourself,” I will not hesitate, now and occasionally, and in unobtrusive moments (usually when the conversation tends toward this direction), to mention briefly a few of my own experiences in life, situations I have encountered that relate to the client’s situation in some way, or simply facts about my lifestyle, my beliefs. If related in a rather factual manner, without excessive emotional expression, it is received likewise. Certainly one would not want the homeopath to start telling about their emotional traumas and possibly even have a breakdown in the office, but little neutral pieces of information do give the client a sense of personal touch and trusting acquaintance.

Professionalism and professional image are important, yes. But holistic health means we are dealing with human nature! The old country doctor certainly knew his clients’ private lives because he visited them in their homes, maybe even would have been offered lunch with one or the other. And the people knew the doctor as one of their community. Today, finding the appropriate symmetry between inter-human communication and social and professional ‘image’ can become a delicate balancing act. The nature of the practice of homeopathy provides, I believe, a conducive environment to develop worthwhile human relationships, while at the same time offering a basis for growth and learning for both the client and the practitioner. A client’s respect for the homeopath, and a homeopath’s respect for the client are, as I see it, more important, more beneficial and more conducive to the practitioner-client relationship than the homeopath holding a position of authority over the client.

Communication requires a self-aware practitioner

Communication between practitioner and client is dependent on many factors. Here are two examples of the opposite extremes, which one may encounter in practice as I did (C = client, P = practitioner):

A young man, about thirty years of age, came into the office without an appointment (we do not have a walk in clinic). He seemed to have been looking around in the waiting room for a few minutes before I went to see who was there. He said he just wanted someone to look at his leg, he had a rash.

C: …Do you have time?!

P: (A quick glance to my watch.) Yes, I do have a few minutes, come in.

In the consultation room he sits down. I introduce myself and wait a second or two to give him a chance to tell me his name. He doesn’t, just sits there and looks to the side, almost like he is here against his will. I ask his name, he seems disturbed by my taking a sheet of paper to make notes on.