Community pharmacists can benefit by opening up a dialogue about sex and relationships with their patients. All this week sex, intimacy and relationship therapist Emma Ziff helps you understand the tricks behind being a good communicator.

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A guide on how to approach patients

How do you then approach patients, verbally or nonverbally on sexual issues, or anything else, which they may feel uncomfortable to discuss

  1. Start by complimenting your patient, if you make them feel good, this will build a relationship.
  1. Make sure each time they come in for a prescription or a purchase you ask questions that are personal and show you care. “How are you? How is your wife/husband/son?” And then you can have a follow-up question: “Is there anything else I can help you with?” or “What current health complaints, if any, do you have?” This will open it up for them if they choose to discuss something else on their mind. Do ask open and not closed (“yes or no”) questions to entice conversation.
  1. Many patients do not know pharmacies have an area set aside to speak privately. Let them know, in passing, that if there is ever anything they would like to chat about, that they can do so away from the main area. You could even show them if they are visual. Be available for consultations, perhaps even set consulting times.
  1. People love stories, and more likely to buy from them. If there is an opening to tell an anecdote to someone who may have expressed an issue, tell them of a patient who you have helped, their symptoms, what you recommended and the positive results.
  1. Have an area with leaflets for people to pick up for those who like to read in their own time and make decisions at their own pace. If you have sexual enhancing products and information out on display and very visible, it says “I am open and do not have an issue discussing these subjects with you”.
  1. If you are limited on space, you could have a file with leaflets and information on current products, especially if they can go through it sitting comfortably in a corner.
  1. Promotional signs help as people may buy something they would not normally.
  1. Have a sign - “How can I resolve sexual issues I am having? Ask me how!”
  1. A popular form of communication now is via newsletters. It can be time consuming, but it is a fantastic way of letting customers know about new and discounted products and tips for specifics. You can capture people’s details at the till. More and more people are happy to give their email, especially if they SEE, HEAR and FEEL that it will be to their benefit.