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Five Ways to Enhance Your Communication.

HELLO fellow pharmacists and welcome to the ninth article in the 5W2 series, Five Ways to Enhance Your Communication.

This 5W2 series is a selection of short articles on strategies and techniques to support our emotional development within our professional roles. Previous articles have focused on “Managing Stress”, “Using Mindfulness”, “Self Coaching”, “Maintaining Energy levels”, “Being more Resilient”, “Dealing with Bullying” and “Manage your State of Mind”.

If anyone would like to read previous articles please click on the following which will take you to the articles page on my website

This article has been influenced by some of the learnings I have gained from mentors and role models throughout my career and in particular a guy called Owen Fitzpatrick who I follow on social media, read his books and have done a masterclass and weekend seminar with. He is extremely pragmatic, practical and inspiring. For more information click here

So here are Five Ways to Enhance Your Communication:

  1. Know your Audience

  2. Inoculation

  3. YES Sets

  4. 4MAT Model

  5. The Power of Metaphors

  6. Know your Audience

Whether your audience is a patient, a colleague or another healthcare professional it is so important to take time to think about them before you begin your method of communication. Try the following questions to help you position the communication in a way that matters to them.

  • What does your audience likely think about themselves?

  • What does your audience likely think about you?

  • What does your audience likely think about the information you are about to communicate?

Once you have the answers to these questions you will be better placed to influence your audience in a positive way.

1. Inoculation

This is a simple 3 Step technique I learned from Owen at his “Story Mastery” seminar and have used regularly with patients and at speaking events. It allows you to help shift negative thinking or any potential objections your audience may have.

  • Step 1 – Bring up your audience’s potential negative thinking.

  • Step 2 – Use the word BUT

  • Step 3 – Inoculate against the negative thoughts by sharing a positive and powerful assumption.

Using the example of someone who is thinking of signing up to the Pharmacy Stop Smoking Service.

  • Step 1 – “I know visiting the pharmacy every week for 12 weeks to see the pharmacist can seem like a bit of a pain when you are so busy”.

  • Step 2 – BUT

  • Step 3 – “By coming into see me weekly you will get the support you need to quit to become a non smoker and it will help you see the progress you are making”.

2. Yes Sets

Another short and snappy technique that enhances your ability to influence or help you to get “buy in” is to ask your audience three questions that you believe they will answer YES to. Still using the Stop Smoking Service example:

  • Would you like to be part of a free service to help you become a non smoker?

  • Would you like to feel healthier and save money at the same time?

  • Would you like 1-2-1 support each week to increase your chances of success?

So, three simple questions that a patient is likely to say YES to which increases “buy in” and hopefully sign up to the service. This technique can also be helpful in conversations, presentations, meetings and in emails.

3. 4MAT Model

This tool will help you when planning the structure of a meeting, training session or conversation with a patient. I was introduced to the 4MAT model about ten years ago but hadn’t really used it much until Owen reminded me of the benefits of using it to structure a talk. The four elements can be used in any order and will help you get your message across to your intended audience.

  • WHAT? What will you tell your audience - INFORMATION

  • WHY? Why should the audience bother listening to you - MOTIVATION

  • HOW? How will you share this information - ACTIVATION

  • WHAT If? How can your audience apply the learning - APPLICATION

4. The Power of Metaphors

As you are probably aware a metaphor is a figure of speech that, compares two unlike things without using the word “like” or “as”. Eg “Life is a roller coaster”. This metaphor is often used to describe how life has its highs and lows and to get the most out of life it is suggested you just enjoy the ride.

Using Metaphors with patients can help bring advice you are giving them to life and make it more meaningful for them. Here are 2 examples of metaphors I sometimes use with patients:

  • When discussing weight loss progress I use “If you are on a bike ride and you fall off the best thing to do is get back on the saddle as quickly as possible to reach your destination”

  • If a patient has been described antidepressants for the first time and they are unsure about being on this type of medication, I ask them if they had been diagnosed with asthma and prescribed an inhaler to help them breath so they could get through the day would they be unsure about using the inhaler ?

These are two I use regularly, but I am sure you have lots of other metaphors you could use to enhance your communication with patients and colleagues.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read Five Ways to Enhance Your Communication.

The next article in the 5W2 series is Five Ways to Create Successful Outcomes and will be with you soon, but in the meantime, if anyone wants to find out more about anything in this article or has any comments please get in touch via the details below.


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