Do your patients like you? Do they trust you? Do they call you? Why?

Then what do they do? Are they sharing their experience on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Google? Are they writing online reviews?

Back in 2010, Susan Gunelius penned an article for Forbes Magazine and shared

“The term “prosumer” has transformed from meaning “professional consumer” to meaning “product and brand advocate.” Rather than simply “consuming” products, people are becoming the voices of those products and significantly impacting the success or failure of companies, products, and brands, particularly through their involvement on the social web.

No longer are businesses completely in control of their products, brands and messages. Today, consumers are in control. The leaders of this shift are the members of the social web — bloggers, microbloggers, forum posters, social networking participants, and so on, who spread messages, influence people around the world, and drive demand.”


How are your communication skills? Of the four primary skills, Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, which is your strength? Weakness?

Interestingly, the skill we use, or should be using, the most is the one we have been taught the very least about — listening.

Humans listen more than any other activity except breathing. Yet, we are taught little if anything about how to do it. We could all be better at it, especially if we are the leader of a practice (and we want patients and clients to call and refer us.)

Based on the flood of social media posts and commentary, is it safe to say that humans want to be heard?

Ingredient #1: Listen more. Listen better


From the moment we could talk we have been learning how to do so. Along the way we pick up words, phrases, accents, and other verbal noises as we develop our own personal way of speaking. And each one of us turns out to be unique.

Bert Freeman is an author and inventor of a communication concept called “Consistent Positive Direction.” Bert teaches people how to speak and write in a forward moving and intentional manner that includes eliminating all negative words from your vocabulary.

His concept borrows on and includes “positive thinking” but the more important element is that all efforts to communicate be carefully phrased to be clear about the future intention. What is it we want to have happen?

Whenever something is written or said, it should focus on the desired future state. If you start thinking this way, you will find that the words you use are more meaningful and better understood.

When you are better understood, that which others will say about you might be better, and at least more accurate.

Ingredient #2: Speak and write more purposefully.


The internet allows consumers to be more informed, and in medicine, “self-diagnosis” is becoming more common (Is WebMD a help or hindrance?).

The good news and bad news is patients taking more of an interest in themselves, their symptoms and their treatment options. The bad news, of course, is they may very well get their diagnosis wrong. The good news is that sometimes they give their doctor a chance to join in the conversation. They want to talk and they want to be heard. Is this an opportunity?

In today’s internet dominated economy, people think they know; and they know how to learn more and want to be heard.

How can doctors and other professionals seize this opportunity to build trust with their patients and clients by communicating better?

Ingredient #3, Welcome and encourage conversations.

Ingredient #2, Speak in a more positive direction.

Ingredient #1, Listen better.


Steve Gatter is an advocate, critic and cheerleader to solopreneurs. His website is


Dale Brodsky, Founder & Owner of Fundus Photo — provides a broad range of ophthalmic imaging equipment and Fundus Photo’s “NewVision Ophthalmic Imaging Suite”, software designed specifically for ophthalmic imaging and image management. We’re listening, too.