Rachel Dungan, Pharmacist coach is back again this week to offer more insight and practical advice for managing communication within the Pharmacy.


The common mistakes outlined below apply to most internal staff relationships, customer relationships and many personal and social relationships. They are identified as mistakes because they injure the integrity of the conversation by blocking its flow, creating frustration, and reducing understanding and satisfaction. The consequences can be catastrophic, as disharmony and disconnection can distract us from our focus on the health, wellbeing, care and safety of our customers and colleagues.

Here are six of the most common mistakes:

1.     Talking too much

Going on and on without giving other(s) their turn. This happens in pharmacy consultations when the pharmacist goes into “tell” mode and the customer hardly gets a word in edgeways. Unfortunately, no matter how valuable the information we aim to impart, the one who hogs the talk soon frustrates others, and they quickly tune out.

2.     The “Me-Centred” Monologue (v “We-Centred” Dialogue)

A customer/staff member begins a topic and the listener grabs it away and opens a “me-centered” monologue.  The customer/staff member says “I’ve been in bed for a week with the flu…” and the listener-soon-to-be talker says, “Oh? I had flu last week and it was …. ” and begins to describe their experience. The initiator of the flu topic is unable to complete their thought because it’s been hijacked.

3.     Unsolicited Advice

Many people, especially those of us who identify ourselves as excellent problem solvers are quick to give advice as soon as the other person even hints at a problem.  Indeed, they may even offer advice when the customer/staff member hasn’t even identified a problem they want help to solve. When offered, without invitation, the advice-giver assumes they have earned the right to tell the customer/staff member what to do. This can trigger resistance, and instead of adding value and inspiring the person to take action, it can instead cause the person to dig their heels in and feel disempowered.

4.     Interrupting

This means butting in before the other person has completed their sentence. Usually, this is done because the interrupting person is impatient and is afraid that they won’t be heard or is distracted by competing priorities (e.g. other customers waiting, other tasks to be completed etc)

5.     Contradicting

This is the ultimate consultation/conversation blocker. Although great in a structured debate, direct disagreement is not helpful in customer consultations, staff meetings or any engagement conversation. These offer the best outcomes when the consultation/meeting is mutual and collaborative.

6.     Stingy Contributors

This describes the people who listen, take and receive, but don’t give – don’t DEMONSTRATE empathy.  They contribute little enthusiasm, information, self-disclosure, acknowledgement, compliments or other elements that lift a conversation, deepen engagement and build a relationship. 

To learn more about Avoiding Communication Mistakes and Building Healthy Relationships in the Pharmacy Workplace, CLICK HERE to register for 4Front’s free online ‘STEP into Engagement’ FREE training series available to Pharmaconex Pharmacists until the end of March

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