4 reasons why you should stop talking so much in practice

Listening more can have significant impact on quality of care
Angelo Santin
June 29, 2017
Written by
Photo: Fotolia
Photo: Fotolia
After losing my voice over one weekend, I went to practice Monday a little nervous that I wasn’t really going to be able to communicate with anyone. What I learned from the day was a big lesson, one that I think we all could benefit from experiencing. Lesson learned: I clearly talk too much during my day.

Let me share with you why I think that saying less will help your patients and your practice.

You will stay on time
I don’t generally get really far behind but at times I can be 10 to 15 minutes behind with a regular patient flow. Because I was away for a week, I returned to an extremely busy schedule. It was full with regular adjustment visits plus new patients and reports. I thought with no voice this was going to be nearly impossible, but the opposite happened. I flew through my day, nailed my new patient and report visits, and finished actually ahead of time at the end of my day. Not only did the pace quicken but the quality of every visit improved for both the patient and myself. How is that possible you ask? I learned in those two days that most communication is non-verbal. Communication is powerful with a calm and confident attitude, with unwavering eye contact which says to a patient that I understand without ever needing to say a word.

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You will learn to listen
As a result of not being able to talk, I learned to listen better. I could only whisper a few questions here and there based on where I felt the person was at that day. What I learned was how little people feel the need to talk when they feel like they are truly understood. They knew I was listening to them one hundred per cent, so communication became less about the words and more about understanding each other.

You will adjust better
How many of you talk while you are checking people for subluxation on a regular visit? Think about this honestly. I would contend that most of us slip in this area and talk too much while we are trying to locate a patient’s primary subluxation. Talking affects our ability to use other senses in order to gather information. Palpation and proper location of subluxation is just as important as the actual correction, so give all of your focus to your hands and your senses during this critical time.

Talking through the correction to me is a lack of respect for the adjustment and the person in front of you. Many people say that they are good at multitasking and are capable of doing two things at once. Not only do I fundamentally disagree with this idea in general, I especially disagree with it when it comes to the adjustment. Would you want your brain surgeon at the moment he is about to make a critical move inside your head to be talking about the weather or something else irrelevant? Of course not, you want them focusing one hundred per cent on what they have in front of them. The same goes for you. There is a time and place for talking and the delivery of an adjustment is not one of them.

A better conversation
I’m not necessarily saying that all conversation is bad, just that most of it is mistimed and misplaced. I use a rule in my practice that from the time people get on the table to get checked to when they get up the conversation should be minimal and purely educational. For example, teaching a patient about where nerves go and how subluxation can affect their health is more on point. Any fringe conversations about life are more appropriate on your way into or out of the adjusting space. Sticking to this will ensure the patient gets the proper chiropractic education and still allows you to have the conversations that build a bond.

I am an experiential learner and I discovered a great deal when I lost my voice. I was able to take this situation and constructively use it to create and deliver better care for the people in my community. Are you able to do the same?  Are you self-aware enough to recognize areas in your practice that need improvement? After all, your practice grows as a result of you growing. Therefore the work always starts with you. Good luck.

Dr. Angelo Santin operates a busy subluxation-based family practice in Thunder Bay, Ont., and is president of the Thunder Bay Chiropractic Society. Santin is also a Carter Universal proficiency-rated chiropractic coach. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 807-344-4606.

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