Use This Strategy to Build Rapport, Trust and Motivate Change in Your Clients



Building rapport and trust with your clients is vital to motivating change in those clients. In today’s blog post we share a strategy that is effective for meeting all three of those objectives – building rapport, gaining trust and motivating change. More specifically, we will introduce you to a strategy you should use during the precontemplation and contemplation stages of change – a time where your clients tend to be more difficult to engage.

What is this strategy to help you motivate financial behavioral change in your clients even when they may be showing signs of not being ready to change or contemplating change but unwilling to take action? The strategy we recommend during these two stages is reflective listening. And using reflective listening during these two stages of change is important because it meets your clients where they are in terms of their readinFTN-logoess to change.


Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change

As those taking the Financial Social Work certification learn, one of the recommended approaches in adult financial literacy that the the Financial Social Work model incorporates is Prochaska, DiClemente & Norcross’ Transtheoretical model of behavioral change.

Precontemplation – The client is not ready to make a change; he/she does not see that there is a problem in need of treatment.

Contemplation – The client sees some benefits in changing but is also experiencing or aware of benefits in not changing.

Preparation – The client is making concrete plans to act soon.

Action – The client is doing something to change.

Maintenance – The client is working to maintain new patterns of behavior.

Relapse – The client may relapse at any point in the change process with movement to any of the former stages. Relapse is not so much a stage of change but, rather, a regression to an earlier stage.

A Quick Look at Reflective Listening (and Responding)

As we mentioned above to make that connection – building trust and rapport – and motivate change in your clients it is vital to meet clients where they are in their readiness and willingness to change and to adapt your strategies accordingly. And in the case of clients in the precontemplation and contemplation stages, we recommend utilizing reflective listening

The characteristics of a reflective listening strategy include the following:

  • Being collaborative and nonjudgmental.
  • Avoiding overstating or understating.
  • Using the language of the client or similar language.

The following should be the flow of a reflective listening strategy you will use when discussing financial behavioral change with your clients.

Words Speaker Uses => Words Listener Hears => What Listener Thinks Speakers Means => What Speaker Means => Words Speaker Uses

There are also three levels of reflective listening (and responding) which include:

  • Simple – Repeating, rephrasing; staying close to what the client has said.
  • Amplified – Paraphrasing; testing the meaning/what’s going on below the surface.
  • Reflection of Feelings – Emphasizing the emotional aspect of communication (deepest form of listening).

When you use reflective listening correctly, you help your client to feel heard and listened to. These feelings contribute to a relationship in which the client is more willing and likely to deepen the conversation, build trust and move towards the preparation stage and then take action towards making long-term financial change.


Written By Reeta Wolfsohn, CMSW

Use This Strategy to Build Rapport, Trust and Motivate Change in Your Clients was originally published @ Center for Financial Social Work and has been syndicated with permission.


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