June 11th 2020

Why Open Communication is More Important than Ever

For the last two months the world has undergone unforeseen changes that have impacted many walks of life both economically and sociologically. As we adapt to this new norm in our personal and professional lives it is becoming increasingly evident that communication is more important than ever. From online webinars to video conferencing software, messages sent via Whatsapp or emails to clients – communication has moved away from face to face interactions and is, currently, more based around the digital tools at our disposal.

In today’s blog post, we reflect on what this change in our communication means and why it is important to ensure that conversation, between optical professionals, their teams and their clients, is of the utmost importance.

Communication can be defined as ‘the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium’. Indeed, one would imagine communication in its most precise sense, and underlined by above definition, as the tools used for communication. However, most experts agree that 70 to 93% of all communication is nonverbal. Nonverbal communication is the transmission of messages or signals through a nonverbal platform such as eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, posture, and the distance between two individuals. Thus, the challenge that we are all currently experiencing is – how can we still be clear and understanding in our communication when we are limited by our social interactions?

We have created a list of tips on what to expect in interactions with optical professionals and their clients in order to help progress through any issues that may arise and to establish a dialogue for clear understanding.

For Clients

  • Note a list of questions that you wish to ask before your phone call to maximise the contact time with your professional
  • Make notes that you can refer back to during your conversation
  • Understand that there may be slower response times (emails) or busier than usual phone lines delaying an answer
  • Understand that, when dealing with clinical issues, it may be difficult for the professional to provide clear answers without an eye examination or clinical procedure.
  • As practices are beginning to reopen expect a potentially longer than usual waiting time to see a professional
  • The practices that are open may be providing ‘urgent care’ and, as such, may prioritise certain urgent care cases – defined by their own criteria.

For more information, visit the GOC website.

For Professionals

  • Ensure that your website or social media channels contains clear information as to your current working practices to manage client’s expectations
  • Regularly follow news and updates from professional bodies relating to coronavirus specific guidelines
  • When liaising with clients via any method of communication reassurance and understanding are even more important
  • Ask more questions than usual should you have particular concerns when speaking to a client over the phone
  • Decide on whether the client will be seen and if their symptoms/concerns represent an urgent need for care
  • Ensure that all staff and teams are briefed regularly on updates and how to deal with clients

Keep up to date with the GOC advice for registrants.

Communication, regardless of the method used, is an essential part of ensuring the very best in patient care. As we move towards a closer date for reopening our world may have changed but the fundamentals of clear communication have not and in turn have become more important than ever.

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