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5 Ways to Show Respect for Your Participants

by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  


Wellness practitioners can easily fall into thinking that because what we do is good for others, we should always be welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately, the opposite can be true in a potential client’s mind — they may be more suspicious of your motives because their health and habits are personal issues, so why should someone else even care, much less want them to change? Until you earn their respect, there’s a good chance your message will be viewed with doubt or even distrust. Some suggestions…


  • Recognize their intelligence. Flipping through the late night cable channels gives you plenty examples of health messages that don’t acknowledge audience intelligence. Never sensationalize to gain attention for your health promotion program.
  • Appreciate them as individuals. We all know the 1 or 2 clients who drive us crazy. Resist the temptation to slam them after an encounter. If it’s a persistent problem, set aside time to discuss it with them away from the situation.
  • Don’t over-promise. Let your clients know what could happen if they do this or that, but never suggest an outcome you can’t be certain of.
  • Do what you say you’re going to do… all the time. It sounds trite, but so few services actually follow through; this is an easy way to achieve credibility.
  • Know your stuff. Don’t make it up as you go. If you don’t know the answer, say so. Then promise to find it and follow up promptly with a clear response.

Gaining respect takes time; losing it happens in a flash. Do these things consistently and you’ll earn the respect you need to do your job well.