LeadingAge New York Adviser Fall 2015 Vol. 1 - Page 30

CONFERENCE RECAP Effective Communication, What’s Your Position? 29 Based on the conference program entitled: SUCCESSFUL COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES FOR ADAPTING AND THRIVING IN A NEW COMPLEX ENVIRONMENT M any people think you communicate with words alone but actions can speak louder than words. Truly effective communication is an exchange. It isn’t talking or listening, it’s both. When you interact with people, are you communicating in a verbal or nonverbal manner? Don’t focus on your words alone; your eye contact, tone of voice or body language can tell a person more than words ever will. The effectiveness of communication depends on many factors, including roles of the participants, time pressures, stress and the presence of other people, to name a few. When you listen effectively you aren’t just waiting for your turn to talk. Listening takes practice and some of these reminders may sound simple but over time, they can be forgotten: 1) 2) 3) 4) Don’t interrupt Show your interest by nodding Smile occasionally Use small verbal comments like “uh huh” or “yes” to encourage the speaker to continue and, 5) Be sure you have an open posture. One goal of effective communication is to find a healthy balance between thinking and feeling. This emotional awareness can build strong, trusting and rewarding relationships. If executed successfully, effective communication can help you deliver difficult messages without destroying trust, resulting in a profound personal connection. Be aware of the role stress plays in your ability to communicate. When you’re stressed, it can interfere with your capacity to think clearly causing you to act inappropriately or have knee-jerk reactions. Unmanaged stress can lead to conflict and being aware of stress is the first line of defense in reducing conflict, allowing you to communicate more effectively. As long term care providers you are all in the service business. People today can easily recognize good and bad service. When you are in a store and someone acknowledges your dissatisfaction you feel heard. When a resident, family member or guest feels wronged, your apology isn’t an admission of guilt. Rather, it validates the person’s feelings and emotional reaction to a situation. It is much easier to diffuse a situation early by apologizing for the inconvenience caused by not meeting his/her expectations. This is the first step toward customer satisfaction. Next, ask what will make things right and follow up to be sure the situation was handled to everyone’s satisfaction. Remember, each employee is important to the overall impression of your organization. Try to imagine every patient, guest and family member signing your paycheck. A smile, enthusiasm, warmth and good communication among staff can make being a part of your facility a five-star experience. Adviser a publication of LeadingAge New York | Fall 2015