There’s a three-word phrase that successful doctors use often in interacting with others. Civic leaders, business executives and sales people all use it effortlessly—and effectively. It’s one simple, short phrase that easily fits in conversation, and works wonders in improving communications and patient experience.
Here it is: “Tell me more.”
For sales people, simply saying, “Tell me more,” immediately allows them to learn more about a customer’s objection and how to shape a meaningful answer to their need. Similarly, in doctor-patient conversation, the short phrase is a disarming and effective invitation for the patient to be heard.
A patient wants to feel that the (often busy, sometimes rushed) doctor wants to hear their needs, problems and issues…and that they, the patient, is being heard. When a doctors says, Tell me more, the patient:
- Has the doctor’s attention
- Is acknowledged as a partner in the discussion
- Is empowered to express themselves
- May reveal an underlying concern or real objection
What’s more, the phrase hands over the conversation to the patient, and
- Demonstrates the doctor’s respect
- May disarm patient fears
- Expresses openness and empathy
Better Communications = Better Patient Experience
In healthcare’s patient-centric environment, patients want to be heard. One research project quantifies this as more than 80 percent of people surveyed expressed the desire for their provider to listen to them, but only 60 percent indicate that happens. [Institute of Medicine (IOM) Roundtable on Value and Science-Driven Health Care]
Perhaps most importantly, this communications technique engages the patient and provides the physician with an opportunity for active listening and greater understanding.
Inviting the patient to Tell me more, is simple, friendly, and is easy to incorporate in any doctor-patient conversation (or with staff and most people interactions) many times each day.
Among the results, the patient becomes more engaged partner in their own health care, and the positive interaction enhances the relationship, the patient experience, and potentially, the outcome.
For additional reading:
- 7 Critical Skills of Highly Effective Communicators
- Patient Experience and The Lost Art of Listening
- Physician Wake-up Call: The Patient Needs to be Heard