Check In and Chat Plus Volunteer

Building rapport

Check In and Chat Plus means you will make regular contact over a 6-week period. For both of you to benefit from this relationship, you need to ensure that you are both a good fit for each other and make a connection.

It can be more challenging to build rapport over the phone than in person. When we envisage ourselves talking to a person face to face our words and tone can often change so always start your calls with a smile on your face.

Having a pen and paper handy to make some notes on what is discussed will help with your future conversations.

Here are some tips to help you build rapport:

Make it personal

Take the time to get to know the person. Ask about their friends and family, hobbies, and other important aspects of their life. This communicates your desire to understand them as a person, this is an easy way to learn how to build rapport.

Find links between common experiences

Listen carefully to find things you have in common and make notes of these, you will find this useful to revisit in future conversations.

Show empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand their situation, perspective and feelings. Showing empathy can be just a simple statement such as “I appreciate that it is challenging” or “That must be difficult for you”.

Validate fears, desires, or other concerns

When you validate what someone says, you’re telling them that you hear and understand their concerns, but you’re not telling them what you think they should do about it. So, saying “I understand this is important to you, I hope you are getting the support you need.” validates what they have shared. By doing this, you’re showing them that you respect how they feel, even if you can’t help them in the way they’d like.

Positive questions

The individual may not feel positive at the moment so trying to focus on something positive in their life may help their emotional wellbeing. You could try some of the following:

  • Tell me about your friends and family.
  • What hobbies do you have?
  • How long have you lived in your house/village/town?
  • Do you enjoy watching TV or reading a book?

We have some examples of other questions you can ask later in the guide.

Active listening

Active listening ensures that the person feels heard. This means you need to carefully pay attention to what they  tell you, or don’t tell you, so you can understand what might be causing them upset or distress and can offer some encouraging words or appropriate information about other support.

To help with active listening we suggest you:

  • Free your mind of other distractions and sit somewhere quiet to make the call.
  • Wait for them to finish speaking without interrupting – we can often think we know what someone is about to say which means we don’t truly listen to what is actually being said.
  • Summarise what the speaker has said to you to check your understanding.
  • Ask questions that branch off from what they have said to demonstrate you are listening.

Valuing each other

We want you to develop a relationship that is genuine, this means showing respect for each other, even if you don’t always agree with their behaviours and attitudes.

This can be demonstrated by:

  • Taking the time to understand what is important to them.
  • Respecting the other person’s views and opinions and putting your own opinions, judgments and preconceptions to one side.
  • Being aware of your own and the other person’s personal boundaries.
  • Developing trust and mutual respect for each other.

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Page last reviewed: 20 December 2023