Successfully Advancing your Home Care Agency During COVID-19 though Improved Listening
As we continue to navigate the headwinds of COVID-19 in home care, there are some basic everyday skills we can use to help improve our success. Lately you may have found yourself talking a lot about the events of the world, continued challenges with COVID-19 and how you manage your business through it. During these times everyone needs to connect with someone to help the mentally process and focus their thoughts.
Your team needs this as well and when it comes to home care, sometimes communication is best improved not by speaking, but by listening to your staff and care team. Not only is it an essential leadership skill during normal times, it’s essential for the maintenance and building of relationships during times of challenge like we are going through now with the pandemic.
Listening however, can sometimes be tricky- it is often easier to reply, rather than understand. Here are six practices you can incorporate in your conversations that can help you improve your listening skills.
Remember to Pause: Take a deep breath. Don’t jump in right away, or rush to reply- remember to pause, allow people to finish their thought, so they feel fully heard. Try using “Tell me more…” to help continue their thought.
Watch Their Body Language: Pay attention to not only their face but their body. Focus on tone of voice, eye contact, subtle cues in the way they position themselves, the facial expressions they make, and the way they move. Are they communicating irritation, impatience, eagerness? You can learn what they aren’t saying by watching their body language. Today with many of the office staff social distancing from home video is a good option to connect live. Use a video chat tool if you are not currently meeting with your team live. Adding video chat can really help with improving communication.
Ask Questions: Not only does this show the other person that you are listening and are interested in hearing more, it can help you learn and understand. Use open ended questions to encourage them to open up more. You can also ask questions to check understanding. In situations where you may not be able to communicate in person and watch body language- a common scenario during COVID-19 restrictions- asking questions will help you achieve a better understanding of their mental state, what they are truly trying to communicate.
Restate and Reflect Feelings: Empathy. Give their emotions validity by showing you understand the emotion and what brought it on. Then reflect that emotion back in a non-judgmental way, showing empathy.
Paraphrase: Avoid offering your own thoughts and instead, repeat back what they said to allow them to correct errors, avoid miscommunications, or further emphasize a point. It ensures you fully understand what they are saying.
Summarize: Don’t repeat back the exact words they said, but sum it up in a way that shows them you understood everything that was said and have taken it to heart. It’s important to capture the main points and sequence of what was said.
These practices take time to implement, but in the long run, they’re worth exploring. You will have better luck building relationships, trust, and avoiding miscommunications and conflict by taking time to listen and understand.
SMARTcare Software can provide solutions that will help you and your agency prepare for the future of homecare. SMARTcare offers an easy-to-use enterprise solution to manage, schedule, and operate everything you need for your homecare business. SMARTcare is currently offering our COVID-19 Toolset at no charge to all homecare agencies. The Toolset App includes reminders, agency notices, symptom checks, contact tracing and other important virus risk mitigation tools to help you manage your response to the pandemic.
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