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Test your communication skills

Careers When it comes to communication, are you a bull in a china shop or a soft touch? Take our quiz to find out

Pharmacy employers regularly cite communication skills as an important attribute when hiring. And, at the latest C+D Education Senate, speakers felt communication was such an important skill that it should be taught as part of the pharmacy degree. So how do you rate when it comes to making friends and influencing people? Take our quiz to find out


1. Your local GP rings up to complain that you are sending across too many MUR forms, which is increasing her workload. How do you react?

a) Explain that you wouldn't be filling out so many forms if she was doing her job properly, before descending into a tirade of four-letter words

b) Apologise profusely – you didn't want to overstretch her at such a busy time

c) Explain that you've found recurring problems with prescriptions that you'd be happy to discuss


2. A regular customer says he has recently been prescribed sleeping tablets, but he's lost the prescription and asks if you can dispense the item anyway. What do you do?

a) Accuse him of being a junkie and physically escort him off the premises

b) Tell him you're happy to bend the rules for a regular customer – would he like any Valium with that?

c) Explain that you can't dispense the item without a prescription and offer to ring the surgery on his behalf


3. Your normally reliable locum pharmacist has turned up in a hungover state, scruffily dressed and seems to be making mistakes on prescriptions. What's your reaction?

a) Surprise him with a bucket of cold water. That should cure his hangover and force him to change into more suitable attire

b) Tell him to take it easy today and offer an Alka Seltzer on the house

c) Ask him whether everything's OK and explain that you need him to be on the ball while he's at work


4. You're meeting the local CCG chair for the first time. What do you say?

a) Come armed with a variety of Daily Mail clippings about GPs failing to provide adequate patient services and explain why pharmacy could do a much better job

b) Say you'll be happy to take on any services GPs don't want to do – as a free trial, of course

c) Outline the business case for a new pharmacy service and explain why you think it could make a real difference to patients


5. A customer's child accidentally knocks over your make-up display, damaging a few items in the process. How do you react?

a) Tell the child the damage will be coming out of their pocket money for years to come and threaten the parent with legal action. Tears just won't cut it with you

b) Laugh it off and say they may as well take home any of the damaged items that they'd like, as you won't be able to sell them

c) Overlook it as the customer regularly spends a large amount of money with you


Mostly As – Communicate to aggravate

When it comes to communication, brute force is your method of choice. Anyone who refuses come round to your way of thinking is showered with four-letter words and, occasionally, mild acts of violence. Unless you want to earn a reputation as the Phil Mitchell of pharmacy, you may want to tone down your approach to something a little more diplomatic. Try to relieve your anger with relaxation classes or perhaps invest in some soothing music for the pharmacy.


Mostly Bs – Signal failure

Being nice may be an attribute, but you're in danger of giving in to everyone's demands other than your own. And the mantra ‘the customer is always right' doesn't extend to giving out Valium without a prescription. Practice being more assertive with colleagues – if you need something to raise your anger levels, try riding the London Underground at rush hour or, if that fails, an episode of Made in Chelsea should do the trick.


Mostly Cs – Communication perfection

You seem to have perfected the fine balance between being an angry, raving lunatic and a pushover. Try using your communication skills to convince your employer that this deserves a promotion.

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