Share Your Patient’s Language

Share Your Patient's LanguageIf you work in health care or health coaching, it’s very tempting to use guidelines to establish goals for patients. But it’s not an effective way to engage people in their self-care.

The fact is, people don’t want to be healthy in order to meet a standard established by a group of medical experts. They want to be healthy to live their lives. It’s not about reaching our goals; it’s about reaching theirs.

That’s why it’s so critical to ask the question about why people might want to improve their health before we can offer meaningful coaching and interventions. Once we understand the patient’s goals, we can adopt their language to frame our intervention.

Sharing a common language helps engage patients as the owners of their self-management. It requires high levels of empathy from providers and coaches, but can pay dividends, especially if it helps us connect with people who otherwise struggle to use the health care system.

So next time you’re trying to connect with someone around a health goal, instead of naming a biometric goal, consider asking, “What could working on this issue do for your quality of life?” Take your cues from the answer.