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7 Steps to Creating Customer/Patient Trust and Overcoming Resistance

By Toni Gitles, M.A., and Harriet Cavanah Dart, C. Ped. Previously Published: © Current Pedorthics,June/July 2005, Vol. 37, Issue 4

Why talk about relationships?

The answer was simple to the late Paul Brand, M.D. As he put it, "The interface between people may be as important as the mechanical interface around tissues.”

The same sentiment is expressed frequently in the hearing industry, where it is referred to as the Platinum Rule of Patient Care: "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Author Lee Glickstein says it another way: "What we tell people may be extremely valuable, but how they feel in relation to us determines whether or not they hear us, trust us, and act on what we say. If we are real with them, they will pay attention. They will believe what we say, and be inspired to do something in response.”

Greg Baer, M.D., really cuts to the chase: "We have a deep yearning to feel connected to each other, and when that connection is missing, we are terrified.”

A shift in who we are "being” vs. what we are "doing” is described as the access to transforming what we see as possible in our reality, according to Tracy Goss in The Last Word on Power. An honest and heartfelt approach to our relationships is a way of "being” and comprises three elements:

  • Authenticity: Bringing our authentic and passionate self to every interaction inspires others to be and do their best. Detachment or the loss of our authenticity prevents connection with others.
  • Generous Listening: The key to instant rapport is making others feel fully seen and heard in our presence. When we listen to others first, they listen to us. Listening is the key ingredient in successful relationships, business skills and all effective communication.
  • Positive Attention: Creating a safe and caring space for others is a matter of giving people positive attention, acknowledgement, support and appreciation. When we honor people with our full attention and regard, they listen to what we say. This generates patient compliance and customer loyalty.

There are really seven steps to creating customer/patient trust and overcoming resistance:

  1. Be still. Learn to be comfortable with silence. This is where the connection begins.
  2. Be present. There is only one moment and it is now and it is the person you are in relationship with in this moment.
  3. Be aware. Soft, available eyes invite a person into your space and allow them to get to know the authentic you. What do your eyes say?
  4. Be attuned. Listen to others. Stop. Don’t talk. Just listen.
  5. Be accepting/receptive. The person in front of you is a human being just like yourself. S/he is perfect, s/he is flawed, s/he has dreams, accomplishments and defeats. Are you judging or are you accepting? To accept others is to accept yourself as well.
  6. Be "in relationship.” There may be distractions and others in the room, but your full attention must be with one person at a time.
  7. Be yourself. Speak and act from your heart with the customer’s/patient’s best interests at the forefront.

There is truly magic in being able to connect deeply with, and to be accepting of and accepted by, another human being. Granted, there is a vulnerability in opening oneself, yet it can be a growth experience with enormous positive impact.

To create a premier pedorthic facility, practitioners have to go beyond having a high level of technical expertise "below the waist.” The skills outlined above offer a practical framework for developing a high level of relationship with clients, staff members, vendors, referring physicians and the community itself. Creating a model for relationship(s) distinguishes the premiere pedorthic facility from the competiton.

Allied health care providers who are willing to practice the seven steps outlined above will find that they are better able to create and establish rapport quickly; recognize behavioral specifics that help break down customer/patient resistance to treatment; and understand that the resistance is normal, which provides an access or a pathway to "connection” with the customer.

As we become more skilled at building relationships, we become more effective in detailing physicians, making public presentations, and presenting pedorthics to allied healthcare professionals and providers.


Baer, Greg, M.D., Real Love: the Truth about Finding Unconditional Love and

Fulfilling Relationships, Gotham Books, 2003.

Gitles, Toni, M.A., "Re-inventing the profession: A new model of hearing care

delivery”, The Hearing Journal, Vol. 52, No. 10, October, 1999.

Gitles, Toni, M.A., Happiness Is a Decision of the Heart, Insight Publishing

Company, Sevierville TN, 2004.

Glickstein, Lee, Be Heard Now! Tap Into Your Inner Speaker and Communicate with

Ease, Broadway Books, N.Y. 1998.

Goss, Tracy, The Last Word on Power: Executive Re-Invention for Leaders Who Must

Make the Impossible Happen, Doubleday, N.Y., 1996.

Paul Brand, MD, The Journal of Rehabilitation. Department of Veteran’s Affairs,


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