Although rapport building occurs throughout all phases of the consultation the initial encounter with the patient sets the foundation for the relationship during the consultation. It is good policy to walk into the waiting room and call the patient by the most appropriate name. Valuable clinical information can be gleaned by observing the patient's affect, movements and walking. It is also most appropriate to quickly familiarise oneself with the patient's notes from well-kept records, preferably before seeing the patient. Rapport-establishing techniques include:
• Greet the patient with a friendly interested manner.
• Treat the patient with respect and courtesy.
• Greet the patient by his or her preferred name.
• Shake hands if appropriate.
• Make the patient feel comfortable.
• Be well briefed about prior consultations.
• Focus firmly on the patient.
• Listen carefully and appropriately.
• Make appropriate reassuring gestures.
• Start with: 'What would you like to tell me?' or 'How can I help you?'
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