Just shut it!

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?

7 thoughts on “Just shut it!

  1. I totally agree. Talkative MTs are, I’m sure, just being nice. But it’s just a lot of effort on my part to contribute to the conversation. I much rather have them focus on what they need to focus on and let me go to La-La Land.

      • I have to wince. I agree, and I’m fully aware when I’m talking to much that I’m being selfish. I’ve extended sessions because I felt my talking took away from their massage. I’ve tried explaining that when I talk I can’t focus as well on my work, and when they talk they can’t relax and receive as deeply either. But the bottom line is it’s the therapist’s responsibility to “shut it.” My clients who are silent during their massage seem happier with my work.

        • Thanks so much for your comment, Johanna!

          And honestly… with clients who are quiet it’s easy for me to stay focused. With clients who chat, especially the ones I get along with really well… I always end up telling at least one story. And then I think “what good did that do? I only did it to make myself feel better… not the client.” It still happens, but I’m sure that being aware of it makes it happen less.

  2. This is funny to me – I always get all these questions in my head during a session and I feel reluctant to ask the therapist stuff about the treatment because I don’t want to disturb their concentration, yet these unanswered questions burn in my brain. Sometimes I talk to make the therapist feel at ease. Often, I ask the therapist if they feel more comfortable talking or staying silent and only get a polite reply that either is fine, I should do as I feel more comfortable. Aaaargh! It seems to me there is no easy recipe to deal with that particular phenomenon.

    • Oh, Saba… you can ask anything that’s on your mind. I’m sure some therapists are very happy to have an interested client. It’s the THERAPIST’s job to make you comfortable! Not the other way round.

      Thanks for some insight into the client’s perspective!

  3. Pingback: 5 Best Marketing Strategies for Introverts « Lu Mueller-Kaul

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