Inside AAHA: June 2022

AAHA secretary/treasurer Dermot Jevens asks the question: Are we communicating, or simply passing information along? Also, Research Recap for the month.

View from the Board

Communication Vs Information

Are we communicating or distributing information? It is important to do both, and equally important to make sure we understand the difference.

How did we survive in practice before text messaging of client reminders, web-based access to lab results, or online access to our work schedule? The reality is that—not just within our profession, but across our entire lives—technology has streamlined our ability to distribute information to each other, bringing incredible efficiencies. Because we have found such easy ways to distribute information, we now often confuse these technological advances in information distribution with communication. But communication requires more than just efficiency—it needs to be effective. And being effective means it needs to generate connection.

Connection is the linchpin of our daily lives.

Connection is key to our happiness and our sense of belonging as human beings—connection with our coworkers, with our clients, with friends and family. Our ability to nurture workplace connection is a determining factor in our ability to maintain great workplaces for ourselves, and to attract, retain, and grow great people and great clients. As we look at connecting (i.e., effectively communicating), there are a few fundamental elements that have very little to do with distributing information.

  1. Listen. We all think about speaking, and so it seems counterintuitive as we discuss communication that the most important tool in communication is effective listening.
  2. Ask open-ended questions. The answer is often more revealing than a simple yes or no.
  3. Understand the impact of your body language. Facial expressions, eye contact, body posture, and hand gestures all play a major role in communication.
  4. Adjust for different knowledge bases of those you are connecting with. Watch out for your use of jargon and technical terms.
  5. Recognize that we all process information differently. To effectively communicate it is critical to appreciate and respect our differences.
  6. Above all, be authentic and transparent. Trust is at the center of all effective communication.

As we think about our workplace, I encourage us all to continue our push toward freeing up valuable time through the use of technology that helps us efficiently and effectively distribute information in our workplace. At the same time, let’s not confuse this information distribution with effective communication.

And so my challenge to you is this: Find a way to use some of this time to train yourself and your teams to connect as human beings on the issues we need to communicate about, whether that is something as simple as client education on pet obesity or more challenging discussions such as resolving a conflict within your team. I suggest the results of such training will have a profound impact on you and all around you.

Dermot Jevens, MVB, DACVS, is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and investor who lives in Greenville, South Carolina. He currently serves as secretary/treasurer on the Board of Directors for AAHA.


Research Recap

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