Take the guesswork out of connecting and communicating

When trying to uplevel our leadership skills it can seem overwhelming. Here is one simple acronym to help you…

  • communicate effectively the right information in the right way so that it is heard and accepted
  • promote psychological safety in the pharmacy
  • build rapport
  • improve your emotional intelligence competency of positive influence

Introducing the SCARF model:

The SCARF Model is based on the five key social drivers that neuroscience has found to influence social dynamics. SCARF stands for

Do I have the perception that my contribution is valued? We can also consider this as am I respected? Am I appreciated?

Do I know what happens next? Our brains want to have a good idea of what’s going to happen next (that’s why change so often brings angst). Everyone has a different tolerance for surprise and novelty.

Do I have a say? Autonomy is about being involved in the process and having a choice. Evidence shows that if people feel that they can impact their situation, they can handle quite a lot of work load and still feel well.

Are we in this together? Is there trust and rapport within our team? Do we feel on the same wavelength or connected to the person/team we’re communicating with? Are we on common ground, or, is there an in-group and an out-group?

Do I perceive the exchange as fair? Unfairness triggers strong threat reactions. Fairness is not only considered in the outcome but also the process that is taken to get there. Often, people can perceive quite a lot of hard-work and sacrifice as fair as long as people are fairly treated in the process.

Why use the SCARF model?

Evidence shows that people can process the same situation with different brain networks depending on whether they feel relatedness to the person or not. If we do feel relatedness, we tend to use the same brain networks to process others’ thoughts and our own. This is rapport at its finest. Going back to the ‘in-group’ and the ‘out-group’, if we see people as in the out-group we will struggle to feel empathy and can even subconsciously be motivated to see them fail. The opposite can be seen when we perceive people in the ‘in-group’, we feel empathy and want them to win. Hence, if we can create a system of appreciating different perspectives and the power of communication while influencing these five social dynamics, we have a great opportunity to create win-win scenarios by understanding and optimising similarities and shared experiences.

By using the SCARF model to frame the information we tell people and the way in which we do so helps optimise ‘reward emotions’. Reward emotions help others to feel safe and enhance their engagement and openness to change amongst other things. If we dismiss the human social drivers and the information we tell people doesn’t meet their needs it can evoke ‘threat emotions’. Threat emotions narrow people’s thinking, creates disengagement and often mean the message you wanted them to hear is lost to their internal thoughts.

How do I use the SCARF model within my pharmacy?

The SCARF model can be applied in a few different ways. You can use SCARF to:

Help make sense of any social interaction and to build psychological safety.

Prepare for an interaction

Example: use SCARF to audit your plan for a rollout of a new procedure prior to sending the communication or having a staff meeting.

During an interaction

Example: During a conversation with a colleague and in the moment realise through the lens of SCARF that one of their needs is not being met. This allows you to ask a question or make an adaptation to your language.

Help debrief after an interaction

Example: After a conversation did not go so well and use the five social dynamics to gain ideas about how you could approach it differently next time.

Like everything, practising these skills takes time, so it’s best to get started today.

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