How to break bad news

Kathy Oxtoby asks how optometrists can keep patients calm and handle difficult conversations.

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Effective communication is crucial to building a good relationship between optometrists and their patients. “A good communicator has the ability to explain something in a way the person they are talking to will understand, to not overwhelm patients with jargon, and to empathise with them,” says Dr Susan Blakeney FCOptom, Clinical Adviser for the College.

Empathising requires optometrists to understand patients’ situations and tailor their communication accordingly. “It is a two-way street,” says Susan. “It’s not just talking at patients, but listening to them and being alert to non-verbal cues – such as them looking puzzled, which might indicate they do not understand the information you’re giving.”

Difficult conversations

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