This is what a teacher once said to me:

You’ve seen farms with wooden fences around them, right? They have posts every few feet. Logs link the posts together. Farmers or ranchers rest their feet on the lower beams and lean on the upper beams. They look out over these fences at their crops, their livestock. You see that?

Imagine you’re out there and you see your patient leaning against the fence. If you’re respectful, he’ll invite you to stand next to him. Now you can both lean against that fence and share the view, see what’s on the other side. Farm land, mountains, valleys, whatever.

That’s exactly where you want to be. You want to stand next to your patient and listen to what he’s telling you. He’ll tell you what he sees and what he thinks about all of it. You’ll have the same perspective. You can talk about that thing out there and you’ll both be on the same side of the fence.

That’s how you can start understanding who he is and where he’s coming from.