As you read the title to this article, what are the first thoughts that come to your mind? What exactly is “tableside manner” supposed to mean? You may correctly surmise that tableside manner is a close cousin to bedside manner, which is often used to describe the interactions patients have with healthcare providers.
Is this something you should care about? Absolutely! Don’t ever forget that a whole head full of knowledge and chiropractic skills are nothing without an ability to positively conduct yourself around patients. In order to deliver the quality of healthcare our patients deserve, good tableside manner is quintessential.
Tableside manner is a term describing how a healthcare professional handles a patient. A good tableside manner is typically one that reassures and comforts the patient. Vocal tones, body language, openness, presence, and concealment of attitude may all affect tableside manner.
A lot of tableside manner is a reflection of our own personalities. The key is to understand that each patient we interact with has his or her own set of needs and wants. Part of delivering good healthcare is to understand what patients need and how you are going to give it to them.
How we conduct ourselves with our patients is an important key to not only establishing effective relationships, but maintaining them as well. Here is a list of five important points to consider:
1. Listen to your patients like they are the only ones in the world who matter.
Everyone likes to be heard when they speak. We have all tried to have a conversation with someone who seemed to look past you or not really care what you had to say. Look your patients in the eyes when they speak to you. Nod your head or give them some appropriate facial expressions to let them know you are listening. Try not to look down at your chart notes or write when you talk to them.
2. Treat people like they are part of your own family.
Patients are intelligent people. They can understand when you are being genuine and speaking from the heart. They can also tell when you are just trying to sell them something. If you operate on the premise that the treatment plan or the suggestions you are making to the patient are the same ones you would make for one of your own family members, your credibility will be strengthened. They will also understand that you are genuinely concerned for their welfare, and that goes a long way.
3. Feel empathy and sympathy for what your patients are experiencing.
When patients come into our offices in pain, they are looking for acknowledgement and understanding. They want to know there is a reason they are experiencing discomfort and they are not just crazy. You may want to tell a patient, “What you are complaining about is not so bad.” However, try and show that you understand the pain they are going through and you will do your best to get them feeling better as fast as you can.
4. Respect people’s time.
You show people you respect their time by being “on time” with your scheduled appointments. One of the biggest complaints of patients about their doctors is they make them wait. I have heard patient stories of having to wait one and a half hours in doctors’ offices for appointments. That is just plain rude. The patients’ time is just as valuable as yours.
If your patient makes an appointment with you for a certain time, do your best to see them at that time. Being late is understood in certain situations but if it is consistent; the patients will just go elsewhere.
5. Empower the patient with knowledge.
When patients come to us looking for help, there is a time when holding their hand and leading them through the phases of healing is appropriate. But even on the first day you work with your patients, you can teach them a multitude of information that they can use to help themselves feel better.
You can teach your patients about their particular ailment, teach them how you are going to help them and then teach them about what they can do at home to keep themselves feeling better. People appreciate learning all they can so that they feel less like a victim and more like they are in control.
When all is said and done, the way you act towards patients shows how much you care about them. Having a wonderful tableside manner is one of the best methods of effective patient retention.