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Archive for the ‘Rapport’ Category

Ticking off the pros

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She was really going off on the nurses, and they couldn’t get control of her. It can get scary for a psych nurse when a patient goes there… probably because they believe Torrey. I’ve never found the mentally ill to be any scarier than anyone else, so I guess I have an advantage. I got there within a minute of the call. All they wanted was for her to go be quiet in her room for a few minutes.

The patient, a textbook Borderline, was throwing a first-class tantrum. Keep in mind that a lot of therapists refuse to work with people who have her problem, and that most of the ones who will work with them don’t have much success. The great skill of Borderline Personality Disorder is Jerking People Around; they do it better than absolutely anybody.

One of the things a Borderline will do is, they’ll place you into one of two categories. You’re an angel or a demon. You can jump immediately from one category to the other, depending on whether or not you’re doing what the patient wants you to do. If you care at all, even a little, about the relationship, they will quickly condition you. It’s either amazing or sad to watch.

Nurses are taught to maintain a “professional distance” with patients. That tends to work with most, but the Borderlines will scream, “You don’t even care about me! You’re supposed to be nurses! Nurses are supposed to care about people!” (Yes, I learned a lot about double-binds from these situations.)

Personally, I think the key is that I care more about my opinion of myself than I care about anyone else’s opinion of me. Like me? Great! Don’t like me? That’s still OK. I like me.

I walked over to the ranting patient and asked her what was going on. After she got a sentence out, I shifted my stance to mirror hers. Then I started to nod in time with the rhythm of her ranting. Once in a while, I’d feed back to her a word or two. One of the nurses stood nearby. I usually appreciate that. This time, though, the nurse picked up on something the patient said and tried to respond.

The next thing that happened caught me off guard. The patient wheeled on the nurse and shouted, Excuse me! I’m having a conversation with this man!” The nurse blushed a dark maroon, apologized, and walked away. To my credit, I suppressed my smile before the patient turned back to me. (Well, it was funny.)

After a minute or so more, I said to her, “OK. Head on back to your room and wait there for a bit. I’ll talk to the nurses and get their side of the story.”

She thanked me and went to do what the staff wanted her to do all along.

Written by Michael DeBusk

September 16th, 2008 at 2:06 am

You’ve just got one of those faces

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This article at the Mind Hacks Blog summarizes some research being done in the area of how we decide to trust (or mistrust) a person based on the shape of their face. It starts with an article at the Boston Globe, with an accompanying graphic illustration of the pertinent facial characteristics:

behavioral scientists have also begun to unravel the inner workings of trust. Their aim is to decode the subtle signals that we send out and pick up, the cues that, often without our knowledge, shape our sense of someone’s reliability. Researchers have discovered that surprisingly small factors – where we meet someone, whether their posture mimics ours, even the slope of their eyebrows or the thickness of their chin – can matter as much or more than what they say about themselves. We size up someone’s trustworthiness within milliseconds of meeting them, and while we can revise our first impression, there are powerful psychological tendencies that often prevent us from doing so – tendencies that apply even more strongly if we’ve grown close.

Here’s something else I found interesting:

Another set of cues, and a particularly powerful one, is body language. Mimicry, in particular, seems to put us at our ease. Recent work by Tanya Chartrand, a psychology professor at Duke, and work by Jeremy Bailenson and Nick Yee, media scholars at Stanford, have shown that if a person, or even a computer-animated figure, mimics our movements while talking to us, we will find our interlocutor significantly more persuasive and honest.

Cute, eh? Go read the Globe article; it’s great.

If you love academic writing, or even more detail, here’s a PDF of a Princeton University study on the subject.

Written by Michael DeBusk

August 21st, 2008 at 6:55 pm

Being a good customer

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As it came to be my turn in line at the grocery store today, the cashier gave me The Standard Greeting (“Hello, how are you…” delivered in a lifeless monotone and with eyes down) and I responded as if she’d really meant it.

“I’m good! How are you doing?!” I said.

When she sneaked a slightly-off-balance look to make sure of me, I met her eyes with an expression that sincerely invited her to come on over and play in my sandbox. (Thanks, Jonathan Altfeld, for that frame!)

It was a tiny and fleeting grin she gave me, but I felt like I’d won a prize. 🙂

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 25th, 2008 at 11:30 pm

Don’t lie to me

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I know this isn’t a marketing blog. I don’t want it to be one. Seth Godin’s blog is more than sufficient for me if I want to read brilliant marketing stuff. But I realize there are people who use NLP in their marketing, and I experienced something today that I think they’ll find interesting.

I got a card in the mail yesterday. From the envelope, it looked like a greeting card or an invitation. As there were a couple of recent events for which a card would have made sense, I was curious. The return address was in Florida, nine hundred miles away from me. I have friends in Florida, so I actually looked forward to what I’d find when I opened it.

It was an ad from the Dodge dealer where I bought my vehicle a few years back. Bummer.

It started with “Unnamed Auto Dealer cordially invites you and your family to our Open House Reception.” Opening the card, I found it continued with, “Unnamed Auto Dealer’s Open House Reception is our way of thanking you for your patronage over the past several years.”

That was interesting, I thought. Have a little party for your former customers, get them to think good thoughts about you, and when they want to buy a new car they’ll want to come back.

But no.

They immediately went into a sales pitch. “This exclusive event offers you, our valued customer, special pricing on over 300 brand new vehicles. In addition…”

Then they got all breathless about a “free gift” and a chance to win a $1000 shopping spree, “just for stopping by!”

No little get-together. They were trying to con me into coming in and looking at their inventory, intending to get me to trade before I want to.

The “exclusive event” ran for three days, from 9 in the morning until 9 at night. I’m supposed to believe that they’re shutting down the dealership for three twelve-hour days and that nobody will be allowed in without the little “invitation”? Or that if I didn’t have the little card they sent me, I couldn’t buy a new car at the same “special price” I could get with the card?

And don’t get me started on the fine print on the back.

So here’s how to persuade me to not cross you off my list of approved businesses:

  • Don’t lie to me. If it’s an ad, don’t call it an “invitation” and make it look like there’s a party going on.
  • Don’t lie to me. If it’s a reception, don’t try to sell me something. If you want to try to sell me something, don’t claim it’s a “reception”. Unnamed Auto Dealer could have created a lot of customer good will with a few hundred dollars’ worth of hors douvres and three or four hours after closing time on Saturday night, but they blew it.
  • Don’t lie to me. If the card is from someone fifteen minutes from my house, the return address shouldn’t be for a place sixteen hours from my house. Could it have cost extra to have the dealership’s address printed on the envelope flap? If so, it would have been worth it.
  • Don’t lie to me. If it’s an exclusive event, it should exclude someone. If everybody can get in, don’t call it “exclusive”.
  • Don’t lie to me. Parties to which we send out written invitations don’t last three days. Parties that last three days don’t shut down at nine in the evening. It’s not a party; it’s you wanting to move some inventory.

Don’t lie to me. Level with me. I’ll respect you for it. And I tend to do business with people I respect.

Written by Michael DeBusk

February 20th, 2008 at 7:59 pm

Anchoring Boot Camp

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I’ve been meaning to train with Tom Vizzini for a long time. (Actually, it’s been since I met him at a “Meta-Master Prac” event several years ago, when a trainer whose opinion I respect told me that he’d attended an event with Tom and thought Tom was pretty good.) Sad to say, I haven’t yet had the opportunity.

Tom’s recent newsletter announced his 2008 Atlanta Anchoring Boot Camp, and the way he describes it really got me curious:

We asked 3 one sentence questions that got the results that would have taken him HOURS if he would have ever gotten them at all. In less than 60 seconds we had established trust, desire, and compelling curiosity, AND had complete control of where and how deeply he felt them. We had him fascinated with a blank piece of paper in seconds.

I gotta wonder what those three questions are. 🙂

Written by Michael DeBusk

February 16th, 2008 at 10:17 pm

What would your mother say?

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The Emergency Department called me because there was an aggressive and intoxicated psychiatric patient causing some problems. When I got there, I heard him yelling at the staff. He was demanding to be allowed to leave so he could go somewhere and kill himself. His wife was leaving him for someone else, he said, so he had nothing to live for. Of course, the staff was shouting at him too, but only so they could be heard above his shouting.

Before I got to the room, I met his wife, with whom I happened to be acquainted. (No, I wasn’t the guy for whom she was leaving her husband.) She was concerned for him and embarrassed. I asked her if what he was saying was true, and she said it was. I don’t think she foresaw how he would react when she dropped that bomb on him. I’d never met the guy, but I could have told her what he’d do.

The more I heard of the shouting — both from him and from the staff — the more it sounded like an argument. He refused to listen to anyone, and the staff refused to let him leave. “Let me out of here!” he’d say, and they’d respond with “Mister Johnson, we can’t do that, we’re here to help you!” (His name wasn’t Johnson, but let’s call him Robert Johnson for the sake of this article.)

I turned to his wife and asked, “What did his mother used to call him?”

“Huh?” she said. “Why do you need to know that?”

“I want to try something,” I told her.

“She called him ‘Bobby'”.

I walked into the room and adopted the demeanor of someone who was surprised to see an old friend in a hospital. “Bobby!” I said. “What’s going on?”

The transformation actually shocked me. He changed instantly from a drunk guy spoiling for a fight to a ten-year-old kid leveling with his best buddy. He started telling me all about what was going on, and I said, “Hey, while we’re talking, let these good folks do their jobs. Now, go on. You were at home, minding your own business, and then what?”

He sat there and told me the whole story, and the staff got what they needed (blood samples, IV line started, and so on) without a problem. Anything I wanted him to do, he did it. Anyone else tried to get him to do something, he’d look at me and ask me if he should do it. And when it came time for me to leave the room, he was calm and grateful that someone heard him out.

This was several years ago. I still don’t know him, and wouldn’t recognize him today. He probably wouldn’t recognize me, either, because he was pretty drunk at the time. But we were childhood buddies for a little while.

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 28th, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Patients, Doctors, and the Power of a Camera

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Dr. Gretchen Berland, M.D., has been doing some marvelous research with disabled people. She mounts video cameras on their wheelchairs so as to get their own perspectives on their lives. From the New England Journal of Medicine:

Moments of extraordinary frustration were also recorded, a scene captured by [patient Vicki] Elman being a striking example. After 20 years of living with multiple sclerosis, Elman required a power wheelchair. One afternoon, her regular public-transportation service picked her up from an event, and during the ride home, her wheelchair stalled inside the van. Although it’s officially against the rules, most riders say that a driver will sometimes bring them into their homes. That day, however, Elman wasn’t so lucky. The driver parked her 10 ft from her front door, where she stayed and waited. But she had brought the video camera.

The first time I screened this tape, I was horrified. I watched Elman try to call for help on a cell phone that had no signal. I watched her wait for a car to drive by, hoping that someone would stop and help. I watched as the afternoon light faded in the background.

I wish the indignity Elman suffered that day was an isolated event, owing to one overworked bus driver. Yet the material she and Buckwalter recorded suggests otherwise. Their filmed interactions with the health care system, including telephone calls with insurance companies, visits with physicians, and exchanges with nursing aides, reveal a culture that can be both naively ignorant and, sometimes, dangerously neglectful.

Follow this link: Full article, video samples, and more information.

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 11th, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Wagging the Dog

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It was a Sunday, if I recall correctly. All the offices were closed, so the building should have been empty. It wasn’t.

I was walking through the hall, rattling doorknobs. It’s one of the “trained monkey” duties a Security Officer does… one of the mindless things a well-trained monkey might be able to do, but humans have to do it because of what might be on the other side of a door that should be locked, but isn’t. Like today.

I twisted the knob and pulled, and the door came open easily. “More paperwork for me to do,” I thought, and walked in to check the suite. As the door closed behind me, around the corner ahead of me came a large, black dog. And he was most definitely not happy that I was in his house. He bared his teeth, growled deep and loud, and began running at me, eyes on my throat. He was less than a second from me. I mean it: less than one second.

I still don’t know what came over me. I adopted a happy expression, squatted down, slapped my thigh, and said in a happy tone, “Hi, fella! Come here, boy!”

It was as if the dog briefly defied gravity. He almost paused in mid-air as he ran. He stumbled ever so slightly as his feet regained the floor, and by the time he made it to me, he was barking happily, wagging his tail, dancing in circles around me, and licking my hand. Remember: less than one second.

The dog’s owner, a tall and attractive woman whom I knew worked there, came around the corner out of one of the offices. Apparently she was catching up on some work. She was looking at the two of us, the dog and me, like we were playing checkers and he was winning.

“Is this your dog?” I asked.

“Uh… yeah…” she answered. When he heard her voice, he began running rapidly back and forth between her and me, as if to say to her, “Look! Look who’s here! He finally came! Do you see?!”

“One hell of a watchdog,” I said, patting him as he ran by.

“Uh… usually…” she said. She was clearly nonplussed. Then she called the dog and went back to work.

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 7th, 2008 at 3:12 am