Being a Good Listener in a Vet Practice

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Kortni Wiegreffe 06-12-2014 Every successful person and every satisfying relationship became so through using good communication skills as part of the process. However, listening is the part of communicating that often gets short shrift in favor of talking. There is a practical side to improving listening skills, especially for anyone in a service profession such as veterinary medicine. How well you listen impacts your relationships with clients, coworkers and suppliers. Better listening builds better partnerships. (The American Veterinary Medical Association, 1997) Personally or professionally all of us could use some practice on our listening skills. For example; a client asks an interesting question, but is mumbling so you can’t exactly hear what he is saying. “Excuse me sir, you’re talking to low can you please repeat that for me, thank you” This is a great way of politely letting the person know that you can’t hear them. Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear, whereas listening requires more than that: it requires focus. Listening means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told, the use of language and voice, and how the other person uses his or her body. In other words, it means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages. (Listening Skills, 2011-2014) Techniques for reflective listening include echoing, paraphrasing, and summarizing. Echoing involves repeating the last few words that a client said (i.e. ‘‘So, Friskie threw up twice last night’’). Paraphrasing is to restate in your own words the content or feelings behind the client’s message (i.e., ‘‘I am glad that you brought him in today. It sounds like you and Friskie had a tough morning’’). Summarizing is presenting an explicit summary to the client of the information gathered thus far (i.e., ‘‘Can I see if I have got this right? Friskie vomited twice last night. He
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