A doctor is an educator and in order to do that well they must be able to communicate effectively.
This post was inspired by a recent interaction in my office in which I nearly fumbled an opportunity to communicate chiropractic. A new practice member came in two weeks ago. She found us online and because she lives in the neighborhood. She had previously had one bad experience with chiropractic and she clearly thought that chiropractic was a one time or couple session activity that someone does for acute low back or neck pain.
I went into the consultation and exam with very negative thinking about where things were going to go and that she would not get the message. I started into the history unenthusiastic about the possibility of really getting through to her about what chiropractic is and how it could positively impact her life.
That is exactly the wrong way to enter a room with a new practice member.
Fortunately, as I sat there listening to her story, it hit me that my job is to first and foremost to be the best educator I can be. To listen intently to her needs, determine her learning style through by observing her mannerisms and personality type, adapt accordingly and then authentically communicate what chiropractic is and link that to real value in her life.
What is your intention when you walk into the room? Are you checking in with yourself and the extreme importance of what is about to transpire?
Many times we allow the routine of caring for people and our closeness to chiropractic to become so mechanical that it loses the intent and any meaningful connection or educational opportunity.
While not everyone is going to “get it,” our responsibility is to deliver the message as effectively as we can. As soon as our intention and focus sways from the objective at hand, our effectiveness drops significantly.
If you have any doubt about the seriousness of vertebral subluxation and how it necessarily impacts the life, function and health of the individual, chances are you are not going to be effectively educating many people.
It’s okay to admit this to yourself. Years ago, after coming out of chiropractic college more confused about subluxation than when I entered, I minimized subluxation because I did not fully understand the science, philosophy or art. CLA offers an Advanced Subluxation Training that can help you in this area if you feel you are lacking here.
While the Advanced Subluxation Training covers the science, equally important is a deep understand of our philosophy of life and health and how subluxation fits into that. There is no program better than Sherman College of Chiropractic’s Academy of Chiropractic Philosophers. It is one of the best things I have ever done to gain more clarity and certainty in chiropractic.
Refine your art. Knowing your stuff doesn’t mean squat if you can’t effectively detect or correct subluxation. Even if you think you have it down, we can always improve and learn from other technique leaders and colleagues.
Be yourself. Unless you really suck. 😉
Don’t try to be someone or something you are not. People consciously and unconsciously pick up on it. They sense that you are uncomfortable which makes them uncomfortable.
Instead of focusing on what you need to say, focus on having a conversation with another person. Be real and tell the truth. Ask questions and lead them to a place of discovery instead of lecturing to them for 15 minutes or longer.
When you have a clear intent, certainty and communicate from the heart, people will naturally gravitate towards you and resonate with our perfect message.
Every successful educator uses tools to aid in the delivery and retention of information. In our office we use several tools. One of the most important tools is the Subluxation Station scans that occur before the doctor even walks into the room. It sets the tone for the intent of the visit: detecting nervous system dysfunction caused by vertebral subluxation.
In the consultation room we have other tools. Every chiropractor should have a spine right? People are visual and tactile. Show them the spine and let them feel it. Make it more tangible to them.
We also use a model that shows how the nervous system is negatively affected by subluxation. (Before I get the emails, I fully understand the “pinched nerve” is not the complete picture of what is occurring so don’t bother.) For the average individual this visual representation is something they can easily understand. They get that structure affects function and that misalignment of a vertebra could certainly affect the function of the nervous system.
Another valuable tool I used on this visit are the awesome forms from Well Adjusted Products. Dr. Tony Ebel has created excellent sheets that explain the sympathetic and parasympathetic system, the 3 T’s and the potential effects of subluxation. I highly recommend you check them out and get them for your office.
By the end of the first visit this new practice member had her belief about what chiropractic is and what it’s for completely turned upside down. I don’t say that to pat myself on the back but to share with you how important it is to never give up on someone based upon our preconceived notions of whether or not they will accept the truth of what chiropractic is or if they will value it in their lives.
The rewards for following this advice are priceless. Most will understand and value your care which will grow your practice. However, many will also decide it is not for them. The saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink,” applies here. Of course we should keep refining and improving our communications but know that if you told the truth your job that day is done.
Steve Tullius, D.C., ACP
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