Dear Bill | Effective Communication Videos

Posted by Bill Esteb on Mar 22nd 2024

Dear Bill,

Are there any video courses on effective communication you would recommend that would upgrade my patient communications?”

I’m sure they’re out there, but I’m unfamiliar with them. Unless you consider my 40-week HeadSpace Coaching program a communication course.

Effective communication can be divided into two aspects: the message content and the channel or “technique” of delivering it. I see many chiropractors focusing on technique skills rather than content clarity.

Whether it be a persuasive report of findings, fielding patient questions, or so-called “table talk,” these communication opportunities often disappoint due to a lack of precision about the message they hope to convey.

Worse, these rely primarily on the spoken word. Outside-inning patients with words (like a drug) is fast, convenient, and let’s not forget, free. So, most of us mint words and broadcast them into the air, imagining we’re communicating. While popular, it’s woefully ineffective.

Effective communication starts with having a point of view, a set of beliefs, a unique perspective, or specific, clearly articulated intent.

Effective Communication Begins With Your Purpose

It was Thomas Edison who asserted, “Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” That may be why there’s so little of it. Having a point of view requires the hard work of introspection, reflection, and knowing our purpose and place in the world.

It may be tempting to take a shortcut, utilizing the current cultural notion of what a chiropractor is and does: “I’m a chiropractor so my purpose must be to relieve back pain by delivering adjustments.” Convenient, but it lacks the deep thinking necessary to be an effective communicator.

What do you mean by purpose? Is it to…

Pay your bills
Get new patients
Adjust patients
Inspire patients to dream
Make money
Normalize spinal biomechanics
Treat symptoms
Be liked and admired
Acquire friends
Reach a statistical goal
Be a hero
Create a healthier community
Please insurance carriers
Reduce nervous system interference
Be an example of good health
Cultivate a long-term relationship
Be busy
Explain the chiropractic premise
Repay your student loans
Save others from irreversible surgery
Prove chiropractic works
Create hope
Be able to retire

And the list goes on. Some are more noble and generous than others. However, the point is, until you have great clarity about your purpose, and with it your identity, your communication (with yourself and others) will be vague, squishy, and lack coherence.

Taking on a “store bought” purpose from attending a weekend seminar may be a start but is wanting in so many ways. A popular one includes the phrase “…to help as many people as possible…” blah-blah-blah.

This is how the subsequent infatuation with practice statistics gets a toehold. Similarly, it fosters a medicalized version of chiropractic that blunts its distinctiveness and whole-body effects.

Effective Communication Means Using the Right Channel

If using the spoken word is convenient, but not that effective, what works better?

Pictures. Visuals. Metaphors. Analogies.

When I work with chiropractors who want to increase their effectiveness as a communicator, I ask them to close their eyes and imagine the area in their practice where they adjust patients.

“Tell me what’s on each of the four walls,” I’ll ask.

After they list the various posters or artwork, I ask a follow-up, “When was the last time you brought a patient over to one of your wall graphics and used it as a springboard to have a meaningful conversation?”

The long pause reveals that this is not a daily or even frequent experience. Those chiropractic posters and wall charts have become virtually invisible, reduced to “decorations” for the purpose filling a blank wall.

Instead, the objective might be to collect images that help communicate a chiropractic principle. In other words, should a patient ask you a question, you’d want to be able to point to an image on your wall, serving as a metaphor or analogy to support your answer. That’s what our 50 Ways to Explain Chiropractic So People Get It eBook is all about. At least it’s a head start.

The reluctance to stray from the typical two framed posters on a wall, is related to the identity issue raised above. If you’re embarrassed by the distinctions that separate chiropractic from medicine, then your practice style is to round off all the sharp corners and reduce chiropractic to a limited form of physical medicine.

Granted, you have the freedom to do so. However, you pay the price of being unremarkable, showing up beige, and lacking the “saltiness” that would make you stand out. While a recipe for fitting in and avoiding criticism, it can ultimately manifest in mediocrity and obscurity.


So, while I don’t consider Head Space Coaching a “communication course,” based on the comments from graduates, it has caused them to see themselves and their career choice in a new and different way.

Important, because communicating with others is about first communicating with ourselves.

Ask Bill your question.

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