It has frequently been said that now is one of the most dynamic times we have ever witnessed in optics. The advent of technology has impacted not only on the equipment we use day-to-day in practice, but in how we lead our lives and interact with each other. Social media – love it or loath it – is here to stay. I am of a certain vintage and dabble infrequently on my Facebook feed, however, younger members of our optical organisations communicate digitally with their peers via apps such as Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and so the list goes on. While I periodically log in to these apps to check updates and see what is going on in the world around me, it is not how I choose to spend my leisure time.

I suppose my concern is while we communicate digitally with our colleagues and friends, we cannot, in all reality, communicate this way with our patients in practice. When we communicate with people face-to-face we must conduct ourselves quite differently. We all remember in our final qualifying exams being asked how we would handle different situations as they arose in practice and the basics of body language, eye contact, gestures and tone of voice are the corner stones of effective communication with our patients. Poor communication often leads to patient dissatisfaction and misunderstandings which could often be avoided if the lines of communication were open and clear.

Good communication skills are often what differentiate a good practitioner from a great one. I would urge everyone to reflect on their own communication skills, and if it is not obvious, ask colleagues to observe and appraise you. The exercise may be fun and it may also make you a better communicator.