Ways of saying Yes

by Shweta Ramkumar

I recently got feedback at my current job in Healthcare about avoiding using “Yep” when acknowledging or agreeing with what patients or healthcare professionals say when corresponding with them as it may appear as too ‘casual’ and a tad unprofessional

This makes me think back to the very essence of healthcare workers building a positive yet professional relationships with patients in order to gain credibility, trust, respect and validation from them

I have worked with and taught professionals from a variety of countries and cultural backgrounds. Regardless of whether you are communicating with someone professionally or socially, the cultural context plays a significant role in how what you say or do (in terms of both verbal cues and body language) is interpreted by the person on the receiving end. For example, I frequently use slangs and informal / casual language when interacting with my students from Europe or Latin America as it is common for them to use that type of language in the workplace when serving their clientele without getting any pushback for it. However, with my Asian students, I have an understanding of the hierarchical structure found in their families, workplaces and society (and I have grown up in a similar culture myself) hence I avoid overly casual words or phrases when teaching them and keep my communication with them a lot more serious and formal.

Having been a patient in the healthcare system in the past and present, I cannot vividly recall any professional using the word “yep” when acknowledging or agreeing with what I said, and even if they did it wouldn’t bother me. However, given that their patients may be culturally, linguistically and ethnically diverse regardless of where they live or practice, the general rule of thumb would be to avoid or minimise informal language during their interactions. That way, their professionalism is intact, it sets healthy boundaries between them and their patients and prevents patients from taking liberties or developing any emotional attachment.

Obviously I took the feedback on board and and frequently use most of the other alternatives to “yes” when speaking to patients as per the picture below; eg absolutely, definitely, certainly, of course, sure, 100%, that’s right or what can I do for you / how may I help you. The “yep” can be an accidental tongue slip at times and breaking that habit is going to take time, especially given the daily communication with my colleagues and immediate team is filled with slangs, acronyms and endless banter 🙂 it almost feels like I have to switch hats when corresponding with patients and colleagues, but practice makes perfect

I’d love to know your thoughts. As a healthcare professional how formal, casual or informal you are when communicating with your patients. How has that impacted your relationship with them ?

#eslteaching #healthcareprofessionals #eslhealthcareprofessionals #communication #formalinformallanguage #professionalcommunication

Hi, I'm Shweta

I coach non-native English speaking healthcare professionals how to advance in their career and build better relationships with their patients and colleagues by expressing themselves more articulately and confidently in the English language.

I work closely with healthcare professionals who work with patients regularly. I help them improve their communication skills when interacting with patients and colleagues, teach them how to show up authentically, assertively and articulately in their field of work in order for them to ultimately gain credibility, validation and respect.

If you work in a clinical role in the healthcare industry and would like to learn more about how to better connect and communicate openly with your clients / patients, book a complimentary 30 minute discovery call with me to see how I can best support you.

Shweta Ramkumar - English Language Confidence Coach