The techniques for being a good listener are needed in order to have a successful clinical veterinary practice. Communication is the key to being able to have one’s practice run smoothly. Communication with coworkers and clients is a necessary skill for any vet to learn. There are protocols for good listening which should be followed at all times. For example, the best way to let someone know that one is listening to what is being said is to paraphrase what the speaker has said. This essay will explore ways in which the technique of paraphrasing can improve communication at all levels.

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Furthermore, this essay will explore communication techniques that deal with nonverbal communication, such as body language. There are cultural sensitivities that a successful veterinary practice will be aware of. These sensitivities include cultural differences which affect the type of care and the beliefs that the clients have. Working in a successful veterinary practice takes care when communicating. Sometimes the communication has to deal with one of the most sensitive communication issues in a veterinary practice—euthanasia. This essay describes techniques for being a good listener in all of these possible situations.

Nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication includes both eye contact and body language. It is important to understand how to communicate nonverbally because these are physical cues which everyone is in tune with. Therefore, for example, if there is a client in the room, and the vet and the tech know that the animal is going to die, they need to be careful not to let their body language show this news to the client.

Eye contact. The issue of eye contact is a fundamental communication technique that confers when one comprehends what is being communicated. One vet asks another: “How many times have you asked clients if they understand, only to hear a soft “yes” in response while the client makes no eye contact…” (Garrett, 2011). Therefore, eye contact can be an informative listening technique to ensure proper communication.

Body language. Body language is a critical component of being a good listener: “Paying attention to a client’s tone of voice, facial expression, and posture will allow you to clarify the situation before a critical misunderstanding occurs” (Garrett, 2011). Good listening can avoid costly mistakes, and it is free to be in tune with body language (Garrett, 2011). Body language does not lie, so it may be the most effective method of being a good listener (Garrett, 2011).

Cultural differences. There are inevitable cultural differences that a vet needs to be sensitive to. These differences must not be met with any discrimination or prejudices. Ways to do this are to be sure that the client feels as though they are understood as an individual (Garrett, 2011). Furthermore, clients will be more open and communicative if they do not feel judged (Garrett, 2011). These cultural differences can be nonverbally communicated.

Clarification. It is important to clarify exactly what is being communicated. For example, a technician may need to run a lab (test), however there might be a Lab (dog) who needs to be taken outside. If the vet says, “run the lab,” it would be helpful for the technician to clarify the instructions. Therefore, in the above scenario, the technician might want to restate the question, “Run the Labrador, or run the tests?” Clarification is best achieved with paraphrasing.

Paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is a listening technique which involves restating what the speaker has said. This is a technique which also makes the speaker know that they are being listened to (Garrett, 2011).

In the hospital setting. It is imperative that there are good listening skills in the hospital setting because of the privacy of information which needs to be protected. Additionally, the patients are in critical need of care that has been communicated, and understood. What this means is that the staff must communicate well in order to provide appropriate patient care.

Patient records and brochures. Patient records are a great way to keep the client updated about their condition and avoid miscommunication. When a vet refers to the patient records, they are able to make the client feel secure that the vet is well informed and up to date on their pet’s condition (Chin, 2016). It is also important to use handouts and brochures in order to back up what one is trying to communicate: “[Clients] who receive written information generally have a higher rate of compliance” (Chin, 2016). The thing that is appealing about a brochure is that it helps one communicate difficult topics. The idea of euthanizing one’s pet, for example, is something that is hard to communicate. Sometimes, having a brochure prepared can ease the communication.

In conclusion, it is ultimately empathy which good listening communicates (Chin, 2016). Empathy is what all pet owners need to feel from their vet. The method of communication that a vet employs is what establishes whether the vet is empathic or not. There are ways that vets can make their clients feel listened to, and respected. These ways have been discussed as the listening techniques of clarification through paraphrasing, being aware of body language, nonverbal cultural awareness, and through using patient records and brochures which provide valuable information that the vet can use to give their client’s a sense of security. Therefore, in a clinical setting, the communication techniques that vets use with both coworkers and clients are similar to good listening techniques.