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November 15, 2007
The Wrap on Rapport
We hope your first month of VENA - Very Exciting Nutrition Adventure – has been fabulous!
As we learned this summer, VENA is — more than anything — a change in philosophy. VENA moves us away from a fault and deficiency-finding environment towards positive goal setting and ultimately positive health outcomes for our participants. Rapport-building is one of USDA’s basic concepts for VENA. The aim of rapport-building is to ensure that the clinic develops a positive environment for WIC participants — and staff. This first newsletter will look at the concept of rapport-building and review some of the basics that we learned during training.
Rapport is defined as the “relationship between people—especially one of mutual understanding and trust.”
What are the critical elements of Rapport Building?
Rapport building involves sensitivity to and awareness of other cultures. Culture is more than a person’s ethnicity. People from a background of poverty share certain cultural characteristics and may look at things in a very different way than you do. According to our VENA speaker, Sheally Engebretson , a characteristic of this culture is that their conflict-resolution skills may be different than what we expect. We may see this in the clinics when a client is quick to get upset or angry when confronted with difficulty. Our first reaction may to take offense, which only intensifies a difficult encounter. Practicing skills that develop patience and presenting a calm demeanor when confronted with an angry or upset participant is one way to build rapport.
Understanding Personality Types
Rapport Building isn’t just for relationships with participants — your external customer. It also includes relationships with your co-workers — your internal customers. Who can forget the VENA session where we all learned our own communication style? Are you an Analytical type? A Driver? An Amiable type or an Expressive? Or like most us, are you a combination of 2 or more types? Working with people who have different personality types can be a challenge. Remember the Analytical type who likes to prepare in advance and have a scheduled approach to things? The action-oriented Driver or the Amiable ( 80% of us) type who just wants us to get along? How about the life of the party Expressive personality? No matter what types populate your clinic, it takes patience to make the work place friendly for co-workers and the participants who interact with us. There is no right or wrong kind of communication style, but it’s important to understand ourselves and how our styles may affect those around us. For example, the Expressive personality brings sunshine into our day, but can really get on our nerves, too! It may be difficult for the Analytical person to appreciate that not everyone sees preparation and timelines in the same light. Taking the time to look at ourselves and see how our behavior affects others is a worthwhile endeavor and can lead to reduced stress in the workday.
So how will I know when I’m doing it right?
You will have an effective and friendly work team and your customers will feel welcome and respected.
Here are some skills we can all work on to strengthen rapport with those around you:
- Greeting each participant with a smile, and with a friendly hello
- Smiling as you answer the phone
- Showing tolerance and appreciation for co-workers’ other personality types
- Respecting other cultures
- Listening actively
- Respecting other’s time
- Providing up-to-date and accurate information
These are just some of the basics of rapport building. The complete presentations of the VENA regional trainings will be available soon on the VENA web page. However, now you can view the Rapport Presentation.