By: Debbie Boone, BS, CVPM – Originally published on Weave.
When mask wearing was added to the Covid-19 CDC guidelines, it didn’t bother me. I have been in a profession that requires mask wearing for many procedures and I understand germs. But, as a communication expert I knew we were going to lose something very important:
Our ability to read expressions.
Humans are naturally astute at reading the body language of other humans. We observe subtle changes in lip positions, wrinkles around the eyes and even the cock of the head to attempt to figure out what those around us are thinking and feeling. Humans have a unique skill that other animals do not appear to have. It is called Theory of Mind. This means that we will, through empathy, try to place ourselves in other’s positions to understand what they are feeling. Sometimes we are good at this, and other times we miss the mark and make up an incorrect story about the other person.
But that is for another blog. 😊
Keeping clients and ourselves behind masks and out of our building has created a great challenge in communication and keeping the service experience at its best. Obviously, we can’t risk infection to see a smile, but there are other things we can do to reach out to our clients and build our relationships.
Humans communicate in 3 main ways:
Verbal/Written Word 7%
Body Language 55%
When one major aspect of our communication – Body Language – is greatly diminished we must make extra efforts in the remaining two.
Let us consider word choice. As an avid reader, I understand how a good author can hook me into a character’s mind with the correct word choice.
For example: “Dick loves Jane” is pretty blasé compared to “Dick was consumed by his passion for Jane.” When we are working with our clients to try to help our patients we need to consider our word choice. Is the dog “painful” because of an abscessed tooth that needs extraction, or is the dog “feeling like you do when you hit your thumb with a hammer…every time it chews its food”.
You tell me; which is going to get more reaction and acceptance of care from the pet owner the first or second comment?
The ability to communicate through email and text is convenient, but if we aren’t using the right words, we are going to struggle. Not only should we use “sticky” language in our conversations, but we can add graphics.
Think of the clients who come for Curbside care who forget their cell phone, credit cards, call in instructions, etc. By utilizing a checklist with photos, sent through text or email after the appointment confirmation, we are more likely to get compliance and have much less frustrated clients.
Pictures increase memory by 65%.
In case you would like a free template for this list, here is the link to one I created: Client Curbside Checklist.