Written by Martha Schumberg
Effective communication is vital in any healthy relationship, whether it is personal or professional. But in healthcare, poor communication can hurt more than a broken heart or bruised ego. Studies have long recognized the importance of good physician-patient relationships that can make or break treatment. Therefore, care providers must communicate effectively not just to earn their patient’s trust, but also to ensure the best possible care is administered.
In response, medical schools have developed problem-based curricula focused on self-directed learning and teamwork. Improving communication is now very important, as highlighted by Maryville University in their Healthcare Management program. Being able to identify conditions and perform accurate diagnosis is not enough. People-centered skills have become integral in today’s ever-changing industry.
It’s not easy to build a connection with strangers, especially when you have to have sensitive discussions about their health problems or medical history. Care providers must learn how to make their patients comfortable while still maintaining professionalism. But new doctors and nurses don’t have to have a minor in Public Relations to do so. Here are two tips that can make a big difference to your communication.
Mind your body language
Psychologist Dr. Amy Ashmore reveals that it only takes seven seconds for first impressions to develop. Afterward, it may be harder to change the other person’s character assessment of you. Though intimidating, knowing this can give you an advantage when meeting new people. According to an article on Inc., some body language cues that improve one’s likeability include facial reactions, eye contact, and physical proximity. Healthcare professionals should speak warmly and compassionately, and face their patients when speaking to them.
Know your patients’ names
In his seminal book How To Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie stresses the importance of remembering people’s names. He writes, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” It’s no surprise how salespeople have been using this technique as it is one of the oldest tricks in the book. People simply feel more validated when their name is mentioned mid-conversation. If a car salesman can learn your name, care providers absolutely can and should learn the names of their patients, even if they don’t expect to meet them again. They will feel valued as people, not just seen as another statistic on a sheet of paper. That’s what good communicators do—they show others that they care.