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Actions speak louder than words

Dispensing optician Sally Bates explores the verbal and non-verbal communication of optical support staff

Sally Bates

“You never have a second change to make a first impression,” dispensing optician Sally Bates told delegates during her 100% Optical Action and reactions of support staff entitled talk. 

During a 45-minute lecture, Ms Bates aimed to discuss and instil some of the important qualities required from optical support staff, touching on both verbal and non-verbal skills.

For Ms Bates, the importance lies in being positive, being confident and being consistent. “This is required from staff, not just for the five minutes they may be interacting with a client, but all day, every day,” she said.

The dispensing optician urged listeners to think about their body language when in practice, and avoid displaying crossed arms, for example. While crossed arms are a big no-no, Ms Bates demonstrated how having your arms at the side is a sign of being open and receptive.  

Highlighting the importance of these types of actions she shared that 70% of all communication is non-verbal.

“Let your body talk,” she told delegates. Sharing an example that demonstrated the importance of non-verbal communication in this manner, Ms Bates explained how making eye contact, remaining at the same level and titling your head slightly showed that someone was listening. 

Re-focused on the arms and hands, Ms Bates said: “We are constantly going near people’s faces so our hands should always be clean.”

She added that the positioning of the hands can also be important. “Keeping your palms open and upwards is a sign of friendliness, while palms down is a gesture of dominance,” she explained, adding: “Rubbing your hands is commonly seen as a gesture of greediness and should therefore never be done in front of patients.”