When someone asks a question or shares a feeling or experience, before providing relevant information, first acknowledge or affirm what they have said. This is a way of treating people not just as patients or clients, but as a fellow human with valid emotions and reasoning. It is key to note that the acknowledgement and affirmation must be genuine. There are different ways to show affirmation and acknowledgement. Below are some examples including empathy, pointing out strengths and positives, and validation.
Ways to Affirm or Acknowledge
Empathy is showing you care about how others feel. This is key to person-centered interaction because providers are prioritizing emotions and experiences.
Most people are trying their best to improve their lives. One way of showing acknowledgement is by complimenting an example of a self-improvement effort before continuing on.
Pointing out Positives/Strengths
Validation is useful to affirm that the person you are talking to is being reasonable and you understand where they are coming from.
Body language or non-verbal communication has a huge impact on people's relationships and comfort around providers. Make sure that your body language conveys engagement, respect, and genuine listening.
Outright disagreement can shut a person down during a conversation. Instead, try finding something true or that you agree with, identifying it, and then going from there. An example of this using the phrase "yes, AND..". This way people are more receptive to corrections or new information and rapport is not harmed.