Monday, March 27, 2017

irresistible communication


If you’re interested in storytelling as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool, you should get a copy of the book, “Irresistible Communication” by King, Novik and Citrenbaum. (It’s out of print but still available “used.”)
Image result for irresistible communication
In this book, the authors discuss subtle communication techniques that encourage and facilitate storytelling in the clinical setting, for example, when delving into a patient’s medical history. These techniques operate on a subconscious level to engage the patient/client in ways that relax him, and affirm the fact that he is being heard and understood. They enable the clinician to read the patient’s body language and to understand how the patient accesses and processes information—whether he is a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner—and how this affects memory, receptivity and comprehension.
“Seek first to understand,
then to be understood.”
~Stephen Covey~
Some of this is accomplished by simply mirroring the patient’s posture, respiratory rate, eye movements and positional changes. If the patient is anxious and breathing rapidly, the clinician can begin by matching the patient’s respiratory rate and then gradually slowing and deepening his own breathing. When the patient is engaged, his breathing will begin to slow and deepen, enabling him to relax. His anxiety will then lessen.

Observing the patient’s eye movements can tell a lot about how the patient processes information. Whether his gaze is directed upward to the right, upward to the left, or to one side or the other suggests the predominate sensory pathway by which he accesses memory.
Let’s say the patient was involved in a car crash. You can get a good idea of how he remembers it by the direction of his gaze and the language he uses to describe the scene. For example, he may say, “I heard the tires squeal right before the truck slammed into my car,” while gazing sideways and to the right, where the impact occurred. He is processing the accident according to what he remembers hearing. If you ask him, then, “What color was the truck?” this will take him out of his story. His memory will blur and important information may be lost, whereas if you ask him, “What else did you hear?” he may recall the sound of crumpling metal, broken glass, the voices of people coming to help, the sirens…all in accurate detail. He may never remember the color of the truck if he doesn’t process memory visually.

A visual person might recall the way the blood splattered on the windshield or way the lights were flashing in the ambulance. His gaze may be directed up and to the left or right as he recalls the details.

A kinesthetic learner might describe the shards of glass striking his face, or the sharp pain in his neck at the moment of impact.
The same traumatic experience can be recalled differently according to the patient’s predominant sensory processing pathway.

“To effectively communicate,
we must realize that we are all different
in the way we perceive the world and
use this understanding as a guide
to our communication with others.”
~Tony Robbins~
Interestingly, the clinician can put this information to use when treating the patient. The visual learner may benefit from written instructions or diagrams. The auditory learner may do better with a CD or audiotape. The tactile learner may constantly want to touch the injured area. Ask the visual learner, “Do you see what I’m saying?” Ask the auditory learner, “How does that sound to you?” Ask the kinesthetic learner, “How do you feel about that?”

Repeating or rephrasing what the patient says is another way to improve effective communication. Asking the patient to repeat instructions is also useful. How many times has a patient gone home with written instructions when he can’t read…
This, of course, is an oversimplification of a complex and intriguing approach to communication techniques. Since “Irresistible Communication” was published almost 35 years ago, a vast amount of research into the neurophysiology of sensory processing pathways has been published.

It reminds us that a lot more goes into narrative than telling a story, and listening involves a lot more than just hearing.
"I know that you believe you understood
what you think I said,
but I am not sure you realize
that what you heard is not what I meant.”
~Robert McCloskey~

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