Following new patient exams, what percentage of patients accept your report of findings and recommendations? If it’s not as high as you’d like, one reason may have to do with what you say to patients – and how you say it.
You probably haven’t had your communication skills critiqued in a long time, if ever. And if the truth were known, no one is likely to tell you about your shortcomings as a communicator. The easiest, most practical way to learn how you come across to others is to “audit” yourself by tape recording your interactions with patients. You could be highly pleased with what you hear – or you could be a bit disappointed.
Either way, it’s worth a listen. (One caveat: The permissibility of taping a conversation without a patient’s knowledge and consent varies from state-to-state. Check with your attorney to learn what obligations, if any, you have in this regard.)
Some of the communication blunders you should look for include:
- Too technical: Chiropractors often explain their findings and recommendations in language that patients don’t understand. Yet it’s a Catch 22, because the patients may not speak up because they are too embarrassed to admit they don’t understand. Remember: Patients can’t accept what they don’t understand.
- Talk too much: Another well-intentioned habit that patients probably won’t complain about to you is the tendency to talk too much. Don’t tell patients more than they want to know or need to know. This blunder can result in “information overload” and indecision by the patient.
- High pressure: It’s natural to want patients to accept your report of findings and recommendations. But if what you say is perceived as “high pressure,” it could undermine trust or may cause some patients to “want to think about it”; they may even decide to leave the practice if they feel too pressured.
Reality check: The real issue is not how high pressure, technical or talkative you are – but rather how high pressure, technical or talkative you’re perceived to be. Audit yourself to learn if you’re as good a communicator as you think you are.