The Oxford Dictionary definition of communication is “the imparting or exchange of information by speaking, writing or using some other medium”. (Oxford Dictionary online 2012). The objectives of communication ensure that a person wanting to get a message across must be heard, understood and accepted, this will then initiate a response. By achieving these objectives, relationships can be established. This assignment aims to discuss the dynamics of communication and customer service through specific incidents within the veterinary practice. The different modes of communication encountered within the surgery will be discussed and how different situations alter the styles and modes of communication that are utilised. This assignment has been produced to examine and demonstrate how communication could be improved within the veterinary practice. Many factors affect how we communicate within the veterinary practice, and as professionals, we must understand how important communication is when dealing with clients and other members of the veterinary team. We must understand how a clients’ relationship with their pet can affect how they communicate with us and how this can affect the treatment that their pet receives. A clients’ emotional state will undoubtedly affect how we communicate with them. Communication can be uni-directional (flow of information is in one direction), bi-directional (flow of information is passed between two people), multi-directional (flow of information is passed between a number of people). Within the veterinary practice both direct and indirect communication are used daily. Indirect communication (written) includes: letters, emails, text messages, facsimiles, leaflets, sympathy and thank you cards. The practice receives letters of thanks from clients when treatment has been successful and conversely, there can be letters of complaint. The surgery also communicates by sending reminders for boosters and text reminders for worming treatments. Staff communicate with each other by writing handover sheets, completion of hospitalisation charts and sometimes text messages. Direct communication (verbal) includes speaking face to face and via the telephone with clients, members of staff and sales representatives. Speaking face to face with clients is an important and unavoidable form of communication. When communicating face to face with a client or colleague, several communication factors can be utilised. Such factors include kinesics. The term Kinesics was coined by Ray Birtwhistell in the 1940s (Wainwright 2003). Kinesics is described as “the systematic study of body motion – the meanings associated with movements of the hands, head, and legs, the postures we adopt, and our gaze and facial expressions” (Hargie 2006 p48). We all use kinesics, quite often subconsciously; we alter our ‘body language’ depending upon the situation. For instance, in the surgery, when discussing with a new client (Client A) that her cat had a perforated diaphragm and the prognosis was not good, the kinesics adopted were completely different than when greeting another new client who was in the practice for a 16 week health check on a new puppy (Client B). With Client A, a subdued approach was necessary; facial expressions were utilised to reinforce the message (lack of smile), and eye contact was important. This helped to reiterate that the situation was serious and also helped to see that she understood what she was being told. Posture was altered to be more hunched to show sadness. When comparing this to meeting Client B, the kinesics was completely different. The facial expression was opposite to that with Client A (smiling) and posture was more erect. When detailing information to Client B regarding the puppy’s health, eye contact was maintained showing the client that they were being paid attention to and that they were also invited to speak. When Client B asked questions, head movement was used...
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