Communication, negotiation skills key to attaining career achievements

November 1, 2010

Good communication and negotiating skills are the cornerstones to any productive relationship, including those with patients, office staff and leaders in the cosmetic industry. Understanding the importance of cultivating these skills can help to build a solid foundation for harmonious, long-lasting and fruitful working relationships.

Key Points

National report - Good communication and negotiating skills are the cornerstones to any productive relationship, including those with patients, office staff and leaders in the cosmetic industry. Understanding the importance of cultivating these skills can help to build a solid foundation for harmonious, long-lasting and fruitful working relationships.

Effective negotiation begins with effective communication. Physicians are constantly negotiating in their practice with patients, staff members and pharmaceutical representatives who visit their office.

These interactions are part and parcel of the daily "grind" and are necessary to help physicians ultimately achieve their goals. In today's modern dermatology practice, effective negotiation has become crucial, particularly in the cosmetic arena.

Some of the reasons why cosmetic patients do not return to a dermatologist's office may include cost, cosmetic results that do not last long enough, unfulfilled aesthetic expectations and having undesired adverse events that they supposedly did not know about. These scenarios may occur if the doctor's negotiation and communication skills were not used effectively during the consult.

Patient satisfaction

Effective communication plays a major role in avoiding unwanted surprises post-procedure. One way to keep patients happy is to ask them to return for a follow-up visit two weeks after a given procedure for a potential touch-up or simply to demonstrate personalized care for them.

"Patients need to know and feel that they are being treated like human beings and not as a widget. Giving them the extra time to see them and thoroughly explain the details of cosmetic procedures is not only crucial in gaining patient trust but will also make them feel special and taken care of," Dr. Goldberg says.

Physician extenders typically will spend more time with a patient, and their input can also potentially improve the efficacy of communication and/or negotiation. However, Dr. Goldberg says dermatologists should carefully select physician extenders; if a physician extender is not fully informed about the cosmetic procedures performed by the physician, communication with patients may be tarnished, and could therefore backfire.

"Poor negotiation and communication will often lead to unhappy patients, which may come back to haunt you. Unhappy patients may send you a letter voicing their discontent and they may even request a refund, which in most cases is a reflection of poor negotiation. You may even receive a letter from their lawyer, in which case any further negotiation may already be too late," Dr. Goldberg says. "In the end, if the physician takes the time to negotiate and communicate well, patients will be happier and you will be happier."