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Communication and the Curse of Knowledge

How you interact and communicate with others is a benchmark for success. People do business with people they like. If patients like and trust you, then you are on the fast track to first- year success. Invest yourself in learning to communicate better with patients and staff. Keep it simple. People make decisions based on emotion and justify it later with logic. Appeal to the emotional third brain of people to motivate them to action. Don't get caught up memorizing some fancy script written by some management company guru. Be authentic. Patients can sense the moment you are not genuine and they will get turned off quickly.

We often make the mistake of thinking that everyone knows what we know. In the health care world this is called, "The Curse of Knowledge." When we know something, it becomes hard for us to imagine not knowing it. As a result, we become poor communicators. Our knowledge and experience render us unable to relate with others.

The better we get in our field of expertise, the more unnatural it becomes for us to communicate those ideas clearly. That's why knowledge is a curse. You just need to devote a little time to applying the basic principles of communication so your patients and staff truly understand what you mean.

What's the easiest way to ensure someone understood you? Just ask! When you finish a sentence, ask them if they understood what you meant. When communicating with patients and staff, take time to ensure everyone is on the same page. Use stories and analogies to help communicate complex or detailed topics.

Communicate from the heart and watch the magic happen. Action step: Go online and purchase one book a month on becoming a better communicator. Put the strategies into action.


Can you change with the times? Old-school methods that worked a few years ago may no longer work in the current economic environment. In order to survive, you will have to adapt to new trends, new technologies affecting your business social and economic changes, and many other things. Don't get intimidated and spread yourself too thin by taking on too many roles. Become legendary at one thing; don't be a jack-of-all-trades. Decide what you want to be known for and kill that category. Delegate the rest. Adapt to working on and growing your practice every day without losing your personal life in the process. Time management is a key component of adaptability. The way you make your time more valuable is to make sure you're getting high-return activities done instead of always pushing them back to spend time putting out fires or just working in your business.

The 3 by 11 Method

Here is a simple and effective practice-building strategy endorsed by business consultant Pat Rigby. It's called the 3 by 11 Method:

  • Step One: Each evening before you go to bed, list three high-return activities you can accomplish the next day. These are work- on-your-business tasks.
  • Step Two: In the morning, choose one of the high-return activities and complete it. See it through beginning to end. If it's not something that fits into an hour or two at the most, break it down into smaller components and finish one of these. After you finish the task, check it off and move to the next one. The goal is to finish high- return tasks by 11 a.m.
  • Step Three: Evaluate what you got done at the end of the day and then create your 3 by 11 list for tomorrow. If you are booked with patients the entire morning, pick any three-hour window throughout the day to use as your "by 11" time. During that time, make sure you shut out distractions and get things done that will take your business to the next level. Focus in order to succeed.

Remember to always strengthen your core pillars of success; staff development, marketing, communication and adaptability. Neglect a single pillar and the entire structure crumbles. To say that surviving a first year in practice is difficult and challenging would be a serious understatement. Almost 70 percent of businesses do not survive their first year of operation. That is not a very strong track record.

In the majority of cases, this is due to basic operational mistakes and lack of a clear vision detailed with expectations and contingencies. The fate of your business is in your hands. If you master key habits, your chances of survival will increase exponentially.

Click here for more information about Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA.

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