What You Don’t Say to Patients (and Why This Matters..) | Nitin 360

What You Don’t Say to Patients (and Why This Matters..)

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For those who watched the first Presidential debate last night, there were some interesting non-verbal cues from the candidates. They conveyed a message (beyond the spoken word) to the 40 million viewers.

When you are interacting with a patient, it’s the things you don’t say that are as valuable (if not more) than the things you do. For starters, your body language must convey the comfort, trust and warmth that the patient is seeking.

In an excellent news segment that analyzes verbal cues of Presidents and Presidential candidates on CNN, host Anderson Cooper refers to former President Bill Clinton as the ‘master of warmth’. Along with Amy Cuddy, Cooper takes a closer look at body language in a short video I can only describe as “Body Language 101”.

Cooper describes Clinton, as the former President conveys “I feel your pain without even saying it” without uttering those words. Watch the video to see exactly what I am talking about.

CNN Video – Debate Body Language Speaks Volumes

The body language of every staff member has important implications for the perception of, and success of your practice. The video consists of several classic moments, including a couple of BIG body language gaffes from former Presidential nominees Al Gore and John McCaine. A must-see if you want to use body language to grow your practice.

It’s Not Just What You Say, It’s What You Don’t Say

There are several things going on in the patient’s mind during each interaction with you. For example, arm crossing and watching the clock is a sign of disinterest. The patient is constantly asking himself / herself:

  • Can the therapist really help me get better?
  • Should I come back for the next visit?
  • Why should I refer my friends and family to this therapist?
Often, it’s the things you don’t do (or say) that have the biggest impact. Here are the things that the patient observes, almost at an unconscious level, that you should be aware of:
  • Is your posture open and upright?
  • Are you maintaining eye contact?
  • Are you using purposeful, deliberate gestures to convey your opinion?
  • Are you smiling and leaning towards the patient, giving the patient your full attention?
  • Are you using voice modulation? Is your voice moderate to low tone?
It’s Not Just What You Say, It’s How You Say It
Voice modulation is a lost art, it’s something that professional actors are trained to do. Outside of body language, it is the most effective way to convey a message and persuade individuals (patients, staff, even your own kids) to take the desired action. Advanced techniques in voice modulation include:
  • Lowering your voice to demonstrate compassion and empathy.
  • Pausing between sentences and nodding your head to encourage compliance.
  • Stretching out certain words (almost like singers do) to get the listener’s attention.
  • Raising your voice just as you are about to end the sentence to emphasize a point.
When body language is combined with voice modulation, you have a powerful communication tool, and an outstanding manager. At the end of the day, what you don’t say is the most important thing that needs to be said. This will help you inside (and outside) your clinic.

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