Navigating Healthcare Communication: The Impact of Expectations and Responsibility


In the dynamic world of healthcare, you can be a great clinician but if you can’t communicate effectively you will never get great client outcomes. Read on to learn the art of skilful clinical communication!

Great communication skills build trust and connection. 

Why is this important, because if your clients don’t like you they won’t come back to see you no matter how good your clinical reasoning and skills are and if they don’t trust you they won’t follow your advice. It’s near impossible to build a collaborative partnership without trust.

Effective communication is a skill that transcends mere competence – it’s an art that demands our unwavering attention and dedication. As a dedicated physiotherapist, you’re well aware of the pivotal role that clear, empathetic communication plays in patient care. 

Today, I’d like to take you on a journey of communication self-improvement, guided by a profound quote that seamlessly aligns with the four fundamental presuppositions in communication:

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of owning the results of our communication.”

Let’s delve into this quote and explore how it resonates with each of these critical presuppositions that I discuss in all of my workshops.

You Cannot Not Communicate

Communication is ceaseless, even in silence. In our field, every action, every non-verbal cue, and every moment of interaction communicates something to our clients. 

As we internalise the quote, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of owning the results of our communication,” we come to understand that our clinical intentions alone aren’t sufficient to convey the intended message. It’s incumbent upon us to actively manage our non-verbal cues and behaviours to align them with our communication goals.

A Person Cannot Not Respond

Clients are responsive to communication, both consciously and unconsciously. The quote serves as a poignant reminder that our communication isn’t confined solely to the words we utter; it extends to how those words are received. 

Clients react not only to the content of our speech but also to the subtleties of our tone, body language, and the empathy we convey. By assuming ownership of the results, we acknowledge that clients’ responses mirror the quality of our communication, empowering us to adapt our approach accordingly.

Resistance is a Comment on the Communicator

Resistance often emerges in clients when they experience feelings of overwhelm, fear, anxiety, misunderstanding, or of being unheard. The quote underscores the need to balance our expectations with an acute awareness of how our communication is perceived. 

Rather than viewing resistance as a hurdle, we should see it as feedback, signalling areas in which our communication may require refinement. By taking responsibility for these reactions, we can pivot toward creating more productive dialogues.

The Meaning of Communication is the Response it Gets

Ultimately, the effectiveness of communication is measured by the responses it evokes. In healthcare, our aim extends beyond merely conveying information; it is to ensure that clients fully comprehend and act upon that information. 

Embracing the quote compels us to acknowledge that good intentions alone won’t suffice. We must actively shape our communication to generate the desired response – informed and empowered clients who take proactive steps toward their recovery.


In the realm of healthcare communication, where each word and gesture can profoundly influence patient outcomes, embracing these four presuppositions becomes nothing short of essential. 

The guiding principle encapsulated by the quote, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of owning the results of our communication,” seamlessly harmonises with these fundamental concepts.

As a dedicated physiotherapist, you have the power to nurture these principles within yourself, elevating your communication skills to new heights. By imparting the wisdom of actively managing communication, responding empathetically to client cues, addressing resistance with care and an openness to being accountable, and gauging success through client responses, you empower yourself to transcend your role as a healthcare provider and evolve into a proficient and compassionate communicator.

Integrate these presuppositions into your daily practice, and witness as you ascend to new heights in your communication skills, ultimately providing more compassionate, effective, and patient-centred care. 

Remember, in the realm of healthcare, the true measure of communication success rests in the responses it elicits from clients, and by taking ownership of the results, you persistently strive for superior outcomes and the well-being of your clients.

What I offer you and your staff?

Skills practice and reflection will be the cornerstone of my training. I am available for both in person and limited Zoom PD for your group.

If you have a staff member who is struggling to keep new patients or confidently present treatment plans, you might be interested in one-on-one coaching for him/her. I take on a limited number of clients each year.

If you would like to engage me to work with your staff or coach a member of your team, click here so that you can schedule a time to discuss your specific training needs.

Contact me to find out when I will be in your city and available for LIVE professional development.

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