By Mary Hart for our “99 Ways to Make a Positive Difference in Your Pharmacy” blog series

What is communication? It is the process of transferring signals/messages between a sender and a receiver through various methods (written words, nonverbal cues, spoken words). It is also the mechanism we use to establish and modify relationships.

If your staff has good communication skills, your customers will appreciate it. I’ve been to stores and have experienced the extremes – where the checkout person didn’t even say hello to me, to the one who was so busy telling me about his experiences that customers behind me were left to wait.

Below are some tips I saw on WikiHow that I think translate well in a pharmacy setting.

1. “Be aware of what your body is saying. An open stance with arms relaxed at your sides shows that you’re approachable and open to hearing what they have to say.” You especially want to be sure to appear open to your customers and patients. Face them while you interact – try not to multitask while you are speaking with them.

2. “Get feedback from your receiver to ensure you were properly understood during your conversation.” This tip comes in handy with both staff and patients. Making sure your staff understands your instructions keeps the store running smoothly with minimal hiccups. With your patients, you want to be sure any directions you provided about the consumption or application of their prescription was well understood.make eye contact when speaking and listening

3. “A good speaker is a good listener.” Productive dialogue demands all speakers are also good listeners.

4. “Do not interrupt or talk over the other person – it breaks the flow of conversation. Timing is important.” Interrupting can be a hard habit to break, but make the effort to hold your tongue until the other person has finished their thought.

5. “Make eye contact when speaking and listening. One technique is to look in one eye, then the other. Going back and forth between the two makes your eyes appear to sparkle!” Sparkling eyes aside, making eye contact is essential to let the speaker know they have your full attention.

6. “Practice.” As with anything, practice makes perfect.

The bottom line is you want your staff to be cheerful, inviting, and sincere. Brushing up on communications skills provides them the tips and tools to make it a reality. Service trumps product assortment when it comes to the reason people return to a store. Good communication builds loyalty, and that solidifies long-term customers.

Mary HartMary is Hamacher Resource Group's Data Assets Coordinator and is responsible for HRG’s Data Assets team. Her team supports the documentation and execution of content capture including descriptive and transcriptive information related to product attributes. Mary is also responsible for the company’s project management process.

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