5 Communication Skills for Osteopaths That Grow Your Practice

Your communication skills as an osteopath are invaluable. Here's 5 communication skills to add to your toolkit that also grows your practice.

Career-long communication skills that grows your practice

As an osteopath, effective communication and building strong relationships with patients are vital for success. Clear and empathetic communication can foster trust, enhance patient satisfaction and contribute to positive treatment outcomes.

Let’s explore some of my favourite insights from Leil Lowndes’ book “How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships” and discuss how these techniques can be applied in every day consultations.

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The power of communication

Before diving into some of my favourite lessons from the book, it’s important to know how important it is to continually improve your communication skills as an osteopath. Communication skills are so powerful when you’re looking to provide the best patient experience possible. In doing so, you’ll also be able to build a business with strong word-of-mouth referrals. It’s a win:win!

Leil Lowndes rightly says that “the quality of your communication is the quality of your life.” So, let’s look at some practical skills to enhance your communication skills.

Skill 1 – Big Baby Pivot

One intriguing technique discussed in the book is the “Big Baby Pivot.” This approach can be particularly useful when faced with criticism or negative feedback. Instead of becoming defensive or engaging in an argument, the Big Baby Pivot involves acknowledging the criticism and then shifting the focus to a positive aspect of the situation.

For osteopaths, the Big Baby Pivot can be applied when a patient says they’re unhappy with something. Rather than dismissing their concerns or getting defensive, you can empathetically acknowledge the criticism and demonstrate a willingness to address the issue. You can then pivot the conversation to highlight a positive aspect of the treatment or the comprehensive care provided.

For instance, if a patient criticises the wait times in the clinic, you can respond by saying, “You’re right, I understand that waiting can be frustrating. However, I want to assure you that during your time with us, we aim to provide thorough and personalised care to each patient, ensuring that we address all your concerns and provide the best possible treatment.

Skill 2 – Ostrich Manoeuvre

Another interesting technique from the book is the “Ostrich Manoeuvre.” This strategy is particularly valuable when faced with potential conflicts or high-pressure situations. The Ostrich Manoeuvre involves taking a moment to pause, take a deep breath and imagine yourself as an ostrich sticking its head in the sand.

In an osteopathic practice, the Ostrich Manoeuvre can be used in a few ways. For example, when dealing with a confrontational patient or negotiating with insurance providers, it’s essential to maintain composure and prevent outbursts. By visualising the ostrich sticking its head in the sand, you can practice mindfulness and control your immediate emotional responses.

By taking a brief pause, you can gather your thoughts, regulate your emotions and approach the situation with a calm and rational mindset. This technique helps in managing conflicts more effectively and finding constructive resolutions.

Imagine if a patient becomes confrontational during a treatment session, you can take a moment to breathe deeply and respond in a composed and empathetic manner. This approach deescalates the tension and creates a safe space for open communication, leading to a more productive interaction.

Skill 3 – The power of three

The next technique highlighted in the book is the “Power of Three.” This approach explains the impact of using three specific points when giving compliments or feedback, as opposed to just one or two.

For osteopaths, the Power of Three technique can be applied when providing feedback to patients. Instead of offering a general compliment, incorporating three specific aspects can make the feedback more meaningful and sincere.

For example, you might say to a patient, “I really appreciated how well you described your symptoms, how patient you were during the examination and how committed you are to your recovery.

By incorporating the Power of Three technique from the book, osteopaths can elevate their communication skills and create a more impactful and tailored patient experience. This technique helps to establish trust, boost patient satisfaction and promote a sense of collaboration and mutual respect in the treatment journey.

Skill 4 – Be an ‘I’m OK–You’re OK’ communicator

One significant technique explained in the book is the importance of being an ‘I’m OK–You’re OK’ communicator. This approach involves communicating from a place of mutual respect, empathy and understanding, rather than asserting power or judgment.

For us osteopaths, being an ‘I’m OK–You’re OK’ communicator is essential for building strong and trusting relationships with patients. By demonstrating empathy and understanding, osteopaths can create a safe and supportive environment for patients to share their concerns and collaborate on their treatment.

For example, when discussing a patient’s health condition or treatment options, an osteopath can approach the conversation with a genuine desire to listen and understand. They can express empathy for the patient’s experiences, validate their emotions and involve them in decision-making processes.

By adopting an ‘I’m OK–You’re OK’ communication style, osteopaths can establish a partnership with their patients, where both parties feel respected, heard  and valued. This fosters a collaborative approach to healthcare, enhances patient engagement and ultimately leads to more successful treatment outcomes.

Skill 5 – The impact of genuine empathy

Probably my favourite technique in the book is the power of genuine empathy in communication. It highlights the significance of truly understanding and connecting with others on an emotional level to establish meaningful relationships.

For osteopaths, the impact of genuine empathy cannot be overstated. You have the opportunity to provide not only physical healing but also emotional support to your patients. By genuinely empathising with patients’ experiences, concerns and emotions, you can create a safe and nurturing environment that gives patients the best and possibly quickest route to achieving whatever their health goals look like to them.

For instance, when a patient shares their health challenges or personal struggles, you can actively listen and respond with empathy. You can validate the patient’s emotions, acknowledge their difficulties and express genuine care and understanding. This fosters a sense of trust and creates a space where patients feel comfortable opening up and engaging in honest conversations.

By demonstrating genuine empathy, osteopaths can go beyond the technical aspects of their practice and establish a deeper connection with their patients. This connection not only improves the patient’s experience but also enhances the therapeutic relationship and encourages greater patient compliance for things like exercise and recommendations on when to come back for another treatment.

Moreover, genuine empathy extends beyond our patients. It also applies to interactions with other allied healthcare professionals. By practicing empathy within the your team, you can foster a collaborative and supportive work environment, leading to better patient outcomes and a more fulfilling professional experience.


Effective communication skills are crucial for osteopaths as they directly impact patient experiences and ultimately contribute to the growth of your osteopathic practice.

Leil Lowndes’ book “How to Talk to Anyone” offers exceptional techniques that can be applied by osteopaths to enhance their communication abilities. By implementing these skills, you can build better connections with your patients, foster trust and create positive treatment experiences.

This, in turn, leads to satisfied patients who are more likely to recommend you to others through word-of-mouth referrals. By continuously improving your communication skills based on the insights from the book, you can ensure a thriving practice that is built upon strong patient relationships and a reputation for exceptional care.

Therefore, it’s essential for all osteopaths to prioritise and invest in enhancing their communication skills and you can get started with this excellent book.

Written by Alan Zaia M.Ost

Founder & CEO of Osteohustle. You’ll find Alan coaching osteopaths, travelling in a van or writing our weekly newsletter, The Hustle.

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By subscribing to The Hustle, you agree to our terms and conditions. We’ll never send spam.