Educating clients about programs, procedures and treatment is a significant piece of what we do in the veterinary field. Practices committed to promoting preventive pet healthcare can find extensive tools and resources through the Partners for Healthy Pets website. Some of these resources focus on how managers can equip staff to discuss preventive pet healthcare, including how to broach the topic, ways to deal with resistant client and a host of other topics. The scripts allow staff to familiarize themselves with key aspects of the program, so they are sure to present the most salient information. However, the scripts cannot smooth out the rough spots in an individual’s delivery. The best way to do that is to highlight the barriers to communication so that staff can learn to recognize and avoid them in their presentations.
Communication training is essential to alert staff to verbal habits that may interfere with how their message is received. If left unchecked, these verbal ticks have the power to turn a seven-layer cake into a gloppy mess---although just as tasty whether it's 10 inches high or flat as a pancake, it’s not likely to receive the attention it deserves.
When training staff to deliver a message on behalf of the practice, encourage them avoid the following verbal distractions:
Steer clear of jargon: Jargon is technical terminology that loses its impact when used with people outside your field. For example, a physical exam should be referred to as just that, not a PE. Use the words that everyone understands.
Avoid the use of clichés like the plague! Yep, I did it! I didn’t need to use “like the plague.” Clichés take attention away from the real message. When you have something to say, don’t fill up space with unnecessary words. You will lose your audience.
Big is not necessarily better: When communicating, the simpler the better. Rely on precise, easy to understand words. There is no need to try to impress (or confuse) clients with your vocabulary.
100% beef no fillers: Don’t fill space with words like “ummm” or “you know.” Pause when necessary, and don’t rely on fillers when you need to regroup. Your audience will thank you.
A statement should not be a question: When relaying information to a client, the tendency to add words like “ok?” can impact your credibility by suggesting that you are not confident with the message. Say what needs to be said and leave it to the client to ask questions.
Save the fake apology: When the assignment is to inform clients about how their actions may impact their pets, no apologies are necessary. Your job is to deliver the facts, not to apologize for doing so.
As preventive pet healthcare is promoted in the practice, use these PHP resources to communicate with clients.
As staff becomes more familiar with them, focus on making sure that their delivery is not compromised by communication habits that do not enhance the message.