For writers, areas of weakness can be difficult to expose. We have only a brief time to work with a writer, and often delve into some sensitive areas or deep topics during these sessions. How do we create a comfortable environment for our writers and establish rapport with them (through our language and behavior)?
In "Asking the Right Questions: A Heuristic for Tutors" The Writing Center Journal. [9.1 (1988): 28-35], Evelyn Ashton-Jones asks: "What are the students actions telling me about his or her attitude? . . . How is the student perceiving me? What kinds of messages am I unconsciously sending? . . . How can I put the student at ease? Establish rapport? Set the stage for this session?"
What are some answers to these questions?
Some ways I think we build rapport:
By greeting writers immediately when they enter our center.
By using the writer's name.
By following the writer's lead--sometimes through unconscious echoing or imitating.
Adopting an attitude of listening (tilting head, etc.).
Recognizing regulars by remembering details from previous sessions.
Can you think of others? Perhaps this is a bit customer-service oriented?