Communication is the key to a good relationship with your staff and physicians. Conversations are how we connect and establish trust and relationships within our communities. In the healthcare organization, trust relationships play a key role in spreading engagement from the early adopters to the silent majority.
Build up Your Trust Account – Building healthy trust with your physicians is the number one step toward improving communication and engagement. We like to compare trust to a typical bank account. You make deposits to build up the balance, and withdrawals to decrease the balance. Practicing good communication adds deposits into the trust account, which is a valuable component of increasing engagement and encouraging innovative change.
The Communication Conundrum – The challenge with communication is that we can never be in the same mindset as our colleagues. We assume that since we are speaking the same language, they are hearing exactly what we intend to say. That is not the case. Language is fraught with opportunities for interpretation, and our conversations are filtered by the recipient’s expectations. These come from a mixture of emotional, physical, and experiential factors that make up the lens of “Already Existing Listening.” To combat this lens, it’s important to take steps to align your communication tactics toward your audience and your goals.
- Empathize with the listener before engaging– The first step to improving the conversation is considering the perspectives of your listener before you begin. Try to get into their mindset to understand the factors involved in their perspective. Do you have previous history with this person that could be impacting their “lens”? When you can identify their goals and challenges before starting, you will be better equipped to discuss thoroughly the issue at hand.
- Try Asking instead of Telling– Questions have an identifiable response in the brain that improves engagement. When a question is posed, it invites contemplation, thus increasing a person’s engagement with the topic. Whenever possible, try to use questions that encourage your colleague’s insights to increase their engagement as a valued participant in the conversation.
- Identify Communication Styles – Individuals communicate in different styles that impact how they are likely to receive your conversation. Identifying the communication style of your physicians can help you tailor your approach to the individual. Consider the DISC assessment, which classifies respondents into Dominant, Influential, Steady or Conscientious. Each of these personality types responds differently to communication styles. Take the time to identify which styles best describe your physicians and tailor your approach accordingly.
- Hyper-communicate– Make sure your information doesn’t get lost in the shuffle by communicating multiple times on important matters. A single email is easy to overlook. Instead, try following the rule of sixes. This means you should communicate the same message six different times, in six different ways. If that seems overkill, just think of the number of times an email has slipped through the cracks in your inbox.
- Ensure Consistency – When you initiate a change conversation, you are anticipating the ripple effect to bring others into the conversation. Make sure this doesn’t end up looking like a schoolyard game of telephone by creating an elevator speech that can be easily spread without loosing consistency. Focus on the four Ps: Picture (vision), Purpose (why), Plan (action plan), and Part to play.
Work toward building trust with your physicians and among your organization by rethinking your conversation methods. These simple tools can help you refocus your discussions into engagement. When you focus on positive communication to begin the conversation, you are setting the stage for organizational change.
At CTI we are committed to supporting healthcare organizations in their engagement efforts with tools for success, strategies and roadmaps, as well as classes and workshops. To learn more about how we can help and to access our brochure of offerings, visit us at ctileadership.com or give us a call at (813) 333-1401.