Being able to identify how a patient processes information is a key component to effectively communicating with them. It allows you to “speak their language.” Think about the connection that is made when interacting with someone from a foreign country when you find a common method of communicating. Trust and commonality break down potential barriers that get in the way of your relationship.
Your success as a healthcare provider is dependent on the trust you earn from the patient as well as their compliance in following the regimen you prescribe.
There are three ways that people typically take in information: visually, auditorily or kinesthetically. According to neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), when communicating, people will typically give away clues as to how they process information. Watch (or listen) for some of the following clues.
Visuals tend to use words such as show me more, look here, and watch this. For these people, it would be best to respond with language that includes “I see what you mean.” You will also want to give them something to see, watch, or look at in order to sell effectively to them. For example, when describing the cause of a migraine, you might want to draw a picture of what is happening with the nervous system or use a model of the brain and spinal cord to demonstrate where the pain is coming from.
Auditories can easily be identified when they use phrases such as “I hear what you are saying,” or “Listen to this.” You will be speaking their language if you can give them more verbal prompting during your explanations. They will appreciate the practitioner that will talk them through the whole plan describing each element along the way. Use language such as “This is how we will start the procedure,” “this is what will happen in recovery,” and “How does all this sound to you?”
Kinesthetics will need something to experience. They like to touch or hold things so be prepared to have samples on hand for them. Use language such as “How do you feel about this,” or “Are you comfortable with this decision?”
Match and mirror the way your patient communicates and the patient will think you are speaking their language. Be prepared with the necessary tools to speak to all three NLP types.