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6 keys to communication, á la Shawn McVey

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CVC Washington D.C. Power Hour speaker explains how to engage in more effective conversations.

The definition of communication holds keys for how to communicate effectively, says Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, who presented a Power Hour on personal leadership at the CVC in Washington, D.C., yesterday. McVey expanded on the definition of communication created by O'Hair, Friedrich, and Shaver (1998), which includes six components. Here are the elements, as well as how to use them to improve the way you talk with team members.

1. Creative insight

Trust your gut response. For example, if your gut tells you you're not connecting with team members, you're probably not, McVey says.

2. Sensitivity

Be responsive to the situation. When you sense morale tanking, address it immediately.

3. Vision

McVey says you should consider what the veterinary practice would be if you faced no hurdles. With this vision in mind, think about what your actual hurdles are. Then base your communications around overcoming those hurdles. This is especially important for managers. Why? Because, McVey says that, in the absence of a practice vision, managers become the picture of what the practice is and what people are supposed to do. Without a clear vision, a manager's communications could be misleading the practice.

4. Versatility

Different people respond to different communication styles and an effective communicator can adjust his or her style to fit the room. To ensure you're a versatile communicator, watch for signals that you're not getting through to your team members and change your approach. For example, if you're talking during a team meeting and a lot of people are staring at the floor, you're not getting through to them and you need to adjust how you're presenting your words.

5. Focus

McVey says that too many people in the veterinary profession use medicine as an excuse to avoid focus on communication. You must change that if you want your discussions to be meaningful. Don't use medicine as an excuse to avoid holding team meeetings or avoid engaging in difficult conversations. This lack of focus on communication will eventually lead to bad medicine and a loss of business.

6. Patience

Communication, like medicine, is a skill to be developed. Practice. Allow yourself to suffer through difficult conversations. In fact, McVey says that effective communicators engage in at least one uncomfortable conversation a day. Feeling uncomfortable means that you're considering all the aspects of communication and are working to address them. So get out there and get uncomfortable in your communications. You and the rest of your team members will be glad you did.

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