Listening & Verbal Skills with Veterinary Clientele

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  • 00:00 Client Communication
  • 00:42 Listening Skills
  • 2:49 Verbal Skills
  • 5:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson covers some important aspects and examples of proper communication with clients in a veterinary hospital: listening skills and verbal skills.

Client Communication

We humans are complex creatures when it comes down to communication. If someone stands next to you with their arms crossed, they can be happy-go-lucky in their words and sounds, but it still makes you wonder if they're being defensive about something. Proper communication is about more than just words; it's about certain words, how they're said, when they're mentioned, and with what body language.

This lesson will go over some key points that should be followed when communicating with clientele in a practice; how to listen well and how to use your verbal skills properly.

Listening Skills

Proper client communication cannot be overstated. Yes, veterinary medicine is about treating animals, but it's the people who bring them in, and it's the people who are financially responsible for them. They should be treated professionally, with courtesy and respect.

The first key to proper client communication is to listen well. That means you need to first stop talking, doesn't it? If you can't listen to the client, how are you going to address their needs?

Effective listening has a lot more to it than simply using your ears. For example, when a client is talking, you should look at them so they understand you are paying attention. But not for too long. Looking at someone's eyes for too long can be intimidating to them. And looking through them makes you look totally spaced out. You know how some people have this glazed-over look when they're not really paying attention to what you have to say? Yeah, we've all been there.

Effective listening ironically involves a wee bit of communication on your part. Some forms of body language, like nodding, smiling, and even saying small things, like ''Gotcha,'' ''Mm hm,'' ''I understand,'' can make it very clear to the person you are actually listening to them. Staying totally silent makes them worry you're not really listening, don't care, or don't understand, but that doesn't mean you should interrupt clients. Just acknowledge what they're saying as they're talking with little words here and there, like the ones I just went over.

Just as important as all of this, you should listen to more than just their words. You should listen to the tone. If the client is about to start crying or is getting angry, it's even more important you pay attention to their every word, or your actions or inactions may exacerbate the situation.

If a client is talking and takes a pause, be cautious about starting to talk. Their pause may be just that, a pause, and not the end of what they're trying to say. Be careful not to interrupt their thought process if that's why they're taking a pause.

Verbal Skills

After listening, it's important you acknowledge very briefly what a client said. This is doubly true for people who are angry or very sad. For example, let's say the client was talking about how their dog has been really sick for a couple of months and their mother recently died. A simple acknowledgment like, ''I am very sorry to hear about what has happened with your mom and Fido. We will try our very best to help you at this difficult time.'' Such a simple acknowledgment can really make people appreciate you because it shows genuine acknowledgment and appreciation of their situation and concern for trying to ease their suffering.

When speaking, many people simply never realize they use words such as 'um' and 'like' a bit too much. That is not professional and it makes you sound uncertain of what you're actually saying. Confidence is key in medical practice. Be confident in your knowledge so you can be confident in how you communicate. Here's an example of how not to say what we just went over: ''Um, like, that's terrible to hear. Um, what happened with, like, your mom?''

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