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Business Observer Friday, Jul. 23, 2004 18 years ago

Effective Communication Needed

Doctors need to understand what successful 'salespeople' know: People are more likely to buy from 'salespeople' with behavioral styles similar to their own.

Effective Communication Needed

Doctors need to understand what successful 'salespeople' know: People are more likely to buy from 'salespeople' with behavioral styles similar to their own.

In a more perfect world, medical professionals might be able to satisfy their patients based on their expertise and skills alone. Unfortunately this is not always the case in today's world. Newspapers reported in June on the phenomenon of some physicians having to resort to practicing medicine without insurance, or "going bare," which, among the various states, is most rampant in Florida.

A study by the Florida Physicians Insurance Co. (FPIC), found that 82% of the reasons people sue doctors relate directly to communication issues. FPIC identified the following as the most common reasons people sue: Perceived lack of concern by the physician (32%); failure to communicate by the physician (35%), criticism by another physician (7%); unrealistic expectations, due to the failure to properly explain issues and options by the physician (5%). Additionally, The Omega Foundation reports that seniors place health care as their No. 1 priority and are disappointed by the care they receive because, like the rest of us, they are concerned about how they're treated as people and patients.

Effective medical practice communication is clearly a major factor in today's mounting malpractice suits - an issue that hits doctors directly on their bottom lines! I don't mean to single out medicine as the sole profession guilty of poor communication - many other professions are at least equally guilty. So what is it that motivates so many people to resist, deny and/or fear improving their communication skills? I believe the answer is "their instincts."

Physicians study for at least a dozen or more years before practicing on their own. They have four years of undergraduate study, four more of graduate, one as an intern, three more as a resident, and perhaps another year or two as a fellow. In the past, I don't expect their curriculum had included material to help future physicians understand how they instinctively act, why they are motivated to act, the impact of their instincts and actions on others, why they should question their instincts before acting, and how to adapt to create win/win outcomes.

Medical professionals need to understand what successful "salespeople" know - people tend to buy products or services or ideas from "salespeople" who have behavioral styles similar to their own. Successful "salespeople" tend to sell to customers, patients or others who have a compatible behavioral style similar to their own. Successful "salespeople" who are aware of their own behavioral style, and learn to blend with their customer's style, are able to increase their sales.

Medical professionals, as well as the rest of us, need to understand what the positive and negative impact of our behaviors and values are on others.

Not taking the time to assess the impact of their words and actions on others before they act or speak, is the single most important issue responsible for poor communications and customer/patient satisfaction.

Whether or not we choose to acknowledge it, we are all "salespeople" at one time or another. Everyone is "selling" something every day. We are either "selling" products or services to customers or patients, ideas to colleagues or competitors, motivation to family members or friends, etc. If earning your living requires effective interaction with other people, can you think of a better investment of your time, talent and resources?

Stephen Garber, who lives and works in the Sarasota area, provides executive coaching for individuals and organizations to enable them to select, retain and/or develop performance champions. Questions and comments are always welcome at [email protected].

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