Speaking Language of Audience Critical to Good Communication, CMO Says

By Andy Smith | AAPL
April 29, 2018

Understanding how to craft the message as a physician leader and knowing how the message is potentially received can enhance impact.

 You can’t be an effective leader if you’re not an effective communicator. And to be an effective communicator, it’s important to know your audience – and speak their language.


Bryan Becker, MD, MMM, FACP, CPE, the chief medical officer at DaVita Village Health in Illinois, discusses communication during his peer presentation. | AAPL

“Understanding how to craft your messaging as a physician leader and knowing how your message is potentially received by certain audiences is an added skill that can enhance your communication impact,” Bryan Becker, MD, MMM, FACP, CPE, the chief medical officer at DaVita Village Health in Illinois, said at his peer presentation April 29 at the 2018 AAPL Physician Leadership Summit in Boston.

That skill includes the ability to map out the message and, based on the intended audience, to anticipate any potential misinterpretations and adjust the message to provide clarity.

It’s imperative, he said, to “touch the right audiences and anticipate how your communication will traverse the organization.”

One of the traps physician leaders often fall in to, Becker said, is “we think our messages are understood.” Not always the case.

It’s important to identify optimal times to listen, and then shape and lead the conversations, he said.

The dilemma for many physician leaders is that they want to be the voice of the physicians and the organization. “That’s tough,” Becker said.

To get buy-in, you must encourage feedback. It’s also important to understand your culture and establish credibility and develop an emotional connection within your organization.

“If I come in and say, ‘We’re not going well,’ That’s not going to go well,” Becker said. “So, present them with information and ask for their feedback and see what they think.”


When you open yourself to feedback, he said, be prepared to be blindsided. But by establishing a partnership to alter outcomes, it helps to mitigate pushback because they become part of the decision-making process.

As an example, Becker said he might approach physicians with information and say, “ ‘Here’s the data. What do you see?’ If they’re not seeing the things I see, I might say, ‘What do you think about this?’ But I’m not going to tell them, ‘You have to do this.’ ”

 Ultimately, communication is partnership. 

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