Are you smoking? Do you do drugs? How much do you drink? Are you having sex? Is someone abusing you? Do you have thoughts of harming or killing yourself? Are you having an affair? Did you steal this? Did you cheat? What’s wrong?
If you knew what I did, what I am doing, what I really think.
I can’t tell you. I can’t tell anyone.
We need to build trust to gain truth.
When discussing delicate subjects or asking uncomfortable questions, keep in mind what is said is not always the whole truth.
The most important thing in communication is to hear what is not being said. Peter E. Drucker
When taking a history I’ve learned to double the alcohol and cigarettes patients admit to. Out of breath, gum chewing, coughing, clothes smell like smoke tells me my patient is smoking despite her claims to have quit.
Impossible is always probable. Pregnancy tests come back positive despite emphatic insistence there was no possible chance.
I would never do that means I’ve already, I am currently, or I’m thinking of it.
People tell you what they think you want to hear. They don’t want to disappoint you. They don’t want to disappoint themselves. They don’t want you to think they are horrible.
Deny, lie, pretend, avoid, hide, bury, run, evade, fight.
What do we do? How do we encourage honesty? How do we gain the trust of those we love or want to help?
Furthermore, wherever we find ourselves in life, how can we help others achieve their goals?
Of all the techniques I’ve tried to help me build trust to gain truth, the only thing I’ve found that works is to be genuine. To be real. To be me.
To show my vulnerability, my humanity, to accept others where they are, for who they are, and show them they don’t have to settle, they can change, there is hope, they are not alone. We all have baggage, doubts, sins, and scars.
Tell your teen you are not there to judge, lecture, scare, or shame.
Reassure your client you are there to identify problems, accurately diagnose, propose proper treatment, and provide needed follow-up. If they are honest, you can better help.
Take an interest in a neighbor, your co-worker. Say their name, correctly. Let them know you see them. Be a friend.
Clarify or restate what your spouse tells you when he is sharing his pain. Don’t interrupt. It’s not time for sharing your feelings.
Remind your patient her medical record and your conversation is confidential. There are a few instances where you have to disclose what you’re told, be aware of those.
Establish trust, or you will never get truth.
I often ask my patients:
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
If not, what do you want to change, and how can I help?
What about you? What are your thoughts or reflections? Please share with me.