Practice tips

• A fundamental prerequisite for effective communication is listening; this includes not only hearing the words but also understanding their meaning in addition to being sensitive to the feelings accompanying the words. 16

• Undertake the strategies of paraphrasing and summarising during the consultation to emphasise that listening is occurring and to provide a basis for defining the problems.

• Associated with listening is the observation of the non-verbal language, which may in many instances be the most significant part of the communication process.

• Good communication between doctors and patients decreases the chance of dissatisfaction with professional services, even with failed therapy, and the likelihood of litigation.

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