How to Be Persuasive: A Guide for the Independent Pharmacist

How to Be Persuasive: A Guide for the Independent Pharmacist by Elements magazine |

For most people, the art of persuasion isn’t something that comes naturally.

But in an independent community pharmacy, pharmacy owners, managers, pharmacists and techs are often in situations where the ability to effectively persuade patients can make all the difference.

Whether you’re emphasizing the importance of a patient adhering to his medication, or explaining the benefits of your smoking cessation program, having good persuasive skills is more beneficial than you may realize.

The good news? Persuasion can be learned.

Follow these four key principles of persuasion when dealing with patients, adapted from this list of tips from Small Business Trends.

1. Actively listen

If you don’t know how to actively listen, you aren’t going to be very persuasive.

The key to active listening is making sure you don’t just hear what a patient is saying, but that you really understand the message.

For active listening to be effective, you must pay close attention to patients, and show that you’re listening to them. It’s important to avoid any distractions, provide feedback and respond appropriately.

Active listening helps you better understand the patient and makes it easier to build a rapport, allowing you to be more persuasive. If you actively listen to what a patient has to say, she will be more open to hearing what you have to say in return.

Try these persuasion techniques:

  • Use body language to convey that you’re genuinely interested, such as nodding occasionally and smiling.
  • Don’t interrupt patients before they’re finished talking.
  • Paraphrase what you heard to show that you understood.
  • Ask questions when you need clarity.
  • Respond in an honest, but respectful and professional manner.


Once you listen and understand the problem, you can come up with a solution. 

2. Ask effective questions

How do you know what questions to ask in order to gather the information you need to be persuasive?

Ask open-ended questions so that the patient is forced to do the talking, allowing you to learn more about them. Open-ended questions are questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer.

For example, asking a patient about his past experiences with medication treatment plans may uncover new information and lead to the root of his adherence problem. Once you know the problem, you can use that to come up with a solution that may work better for him.

The more you know about patients, the easier it will be for you to persuade them toward the best treatment course.

3. Be selfless

If you want a patient to adhere to his medication or use a clinical service, you must be able to show the patient how it will benefit him.

Focus on exactly what the medication or service will do to aid that patient specifically, not why you want him to use it.

For example, after actively listening to a patient with diabetes, you may learn that his foot pain is limiting his physical activity. You can then show him your line of footwear for patients with diabetes and explain how this special footwear can help him be more mobile. 

4. Show empathy

Tapping into patients’ emotions and showing empathy is vital to your persuasive efforts.

When you know how a patient feels, and show that you understand her feelings, you can better connect with her and build her trust.

For example, if a patient fails to adhere to her medication, listen for emotional statements she makes when she’s explaining why this happened. Use these cues to your advantage in coming up with a solution that will get her on board with improving her adherence.

If you sense that she feels alone or helpless, then you can make sure you address this feeling and possibly get a caregiver involved to assist with her medication regimen.

In order to be persuasive, you have to maintain good relationships with your patients. Check out these tips to improve patient relationships in one minute.


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Elements is written and produced by PBA Health, a buy-side solutions company.

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