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Posts Tagged ‘emotional intelligence’

Don’t Just Sit There Listening –Solicit Input

Posted by capcityspeakers on March 7, 2017

by Suzanne Gordon

Soliciting Not Just Listening                                                questions

Want to be a better physician or nurse leader? Enhance patient safety? Effectively lead teams? One of the current consultant prescriptions is the recommendation that leaders spend more time listening than talking. Whether in the larger management literature or in the articles and books that specifically target health care, listening is portrayed as a key to leadership. Employees want their voices to be heard,” one management guru opined in a Forbes article entitled “6 ways Effective Listening Can Make You a Better Leader,” and to “know that they (their leaders) have their interests at heart because they really listen.”

To emphasize this point psychiatrist Mark Goulston titled his bestselling book Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone. Listening 1.1 has, in fact, advanced to listening 2.1 wherein one is exhorted not to “just listen” – i.e. passively and unresponsively — but to engage in “active listening.”

I am all for listening. Of course people have to listen to each other rather than silence, ignore, dismiss, or denigrate one another. When it comes to the implementation of genuine teamwork and patient safety within the hierarchical environment of health care, I don’t think listening is enough. As Amy Edmondson has written in her book Teaming, “Research shows that hierarchy, by its very nature, dramatically reduces speaking up by those lower in the pecking order. We are hard-wired, then socialized, to be acutely sensitive to power, and to work to avoid being seen as deficient in any way by those in power.” Read the rest of this entry »


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Does the use of medical titles have an impact on patient safety?

Posted by capcityspeakers on April 14, 2016

by Suzanne Gordon

A couple of months ago, I was invited to speak at an East Coast medical school and hospital. The group of physicians who extended the invitation—a female surgeon, and female and male internist—took me out to dinner the night before my talk. During the dinner conversation, we were all on a first name basis when we addressed each other directly. When, however, one of the three physicians mentioned something one of his or her colleagues had been working on or accomplished, he or she spoke about that physician in the third person i.e. as “Dr Smith has spent a lot of time working on this issue,” or “Dr Jones just published a paper on such and such.” When they referred to my writing or work, I was not Ms Gordon or Professor Gordon, but Suzanne.

I was struck by this mode of address precisely because I was asked to teach medical students and residents about patient safety and interprofessional teamwork. Modes of address are, in fact, central to both. When I asked them about this, they told me that it’s important that physicians be respected because they know so much.

This is by no means the first time I—as a non-physician and non-PhD ( I am a proud graduate school/doctoral program drop-out)—have encountered this particular doctor dilemma. As a patient, and an older one at that, most docs I meet in the exam room call me Suzanne as they introduce themselves as Dr so and so. If I am on a panel with physicians, I am invariably addressed as Suzanne, while the physicians are Dr…

In North America this practice is embedded in institutional culture. In the clinical setting most physicians address or refer to nurses and other professionals and healthcare workers by first name and expect—particularly in front of patients—to be addressed with their last name and title. (Even when they are on a first name basis, they refer to each other as Dr…) Non-MDs almost always introduce physicians to patients or other staff with last name and title (while they introduce themselves with first names only—sometimes even omitting to mention that they are a nurse, PT, or dietician). When they directly address physicians in front of patients, they usually use last name and title even if they are on a first name basis with the physician outside the exam room. When I ask them why this asymmetry of address, they invariably inform me that patients need to know who their physician is and that this physician must be respected. Apparently patients don’t need to respect—or even be able to identify the role of—nurses, PTs, OTs, social workers, or other personnel with whom they are in contact.

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