Silence is golden for the introvert, while extroverts like to chat. What does this mean for the therapist? Should you try to find out whether you’re dealing with an introvert?
I say no. With every client, it’s the therapist’s responsibility to respond to what they bring to the table that day. And it’s not even true that introverts want it quiet all the time–they just don’t like smalltalk. My online buddy Trina posted a wonderful list of myths about introverts.
In any business relationship, you have to follow your client’s lead on how to engage. It’s your responsibility to create an atmosphere of safety. Chatting away pointlessly never gets you there.
A massage therapist who talks all the time is the number one reason for clients not to come back.
To the extroverts, a talkative therapist is just a bad listener–and the extrovert wants to be heard. Just ask questions, don’t tell stories! An extroverted client will be happy to get into a conversation about pretty much anything.
The introvert, on the other hand, will answer your question with as few words as possible. Monosyllables from ANY client are your sign to just shut it. Play some music to ease your discomfort with silence. Something very boring. Like the Pandora station I made specifically for relaxation.
In regards to introverts, it’s really important not to engage in smalltalk. It feels stressful, to some individuals even painful, and a stressed client won’t benefit from your treatment.
So what about extroverts? Won’t they get antsy when you give them the silent treatment?
Some will, some won’t. Some deliberately come to you because they know they have to get more self-awareness.
So the groundrule I go by is simple: Don’t tell stories. Just respond to what the client is willing to share, don’t make your client your audience.
What do you think? As a therapist, what is your experience with clients who just won’t shut up? And as a client–have you ever had a therapist who annoyed you because they didn’t talk much?
Would you agree that when in doubt, it’s better to be quiet?