Communication Skills: Lousy Management or Lousy Personality

By: Al Borowski | Posted: 07th September 2010

Communication Skills experts will tell you, "You cannot not communicate."

They tell you that words are only part of the communication equation. We communicate with our nonverbal signals such as facial expressions, gestures, or even silence.

We communicate our attitudes and prejudices with our listening styles and actions.

What these experts are saying is that no matter what we do, we are constantly communicating, one way or another. And, no matter what we are trying to communicate, what we are or are not doing can be interpreted in a completely different manner than we intended.

Two recent experiences in the health care field make me wonder if the health care field understands the concept of communication at all.

The first example involves the surgeon who performed my wife's major back surgery.

On his recommendation, my wife went through back surgery to insert a devise in her back to shore up her third, fourth, and fifth vertebrae. After the surgery, this surgeon did not visit her once during her five day stay in the hospital.

Obviously, his medical education skipped the part about making patients feel comfortable physically, mentally, and emotionally. Or, he didn't believe that those elements contributed to the patient's healing process. Or, he flat out cared more about his priorities than his patients.

For my wife's five day stay after the operation, he did not communicate anything to her.

Doctor, "You cannot NOT communicate."

This surgeon was a wizard at high tech medical procedures but a total dunce in high touch patient care.

I can say that with extreme confidence because his lack of patient attention after the operation became more evident during the routine visits that followed.

Post surgery visits proved even more frustrating. But that's another article.

The second incident occurred when I visited the heart center for an echocardiogram at a different hospital.

As required, I handed my prescription to the woman behind the desk.

She "suggested" that I have a seat and that someone would be with me shortly. Her manner definitely communicated to me that this woman did not belong in a customer contact job.

As I was leaving, I thought I might add a little warmth to the world of the woman behind the desk. Noticing that she was on HOLD as I passed her station, I leaned over to her and softly said, "Smile."

She looked at me with a stern, parochial school nun glare and said, "Sir, I'm very busy. I don't have time to smile."

Wow!

Did this woman with such a lousy personality belong in this job dealing with patients at a heart health center?

Or, was she suffering from a rather prevalent malady - lack of managerial communication?

Did any of her managers ever stress the importance of making patients feel welcome, appreciated, respected, and important?

Did they ever evaluate her on her communication skills, her attitude towards her job, or her personality?

Did they ever tell her that patients are the reason for her job?

Particularly in the health care field, you cannot NOT communicate.

You must communicate the mission, visions, values, and expected behaviors that guide your organization.

You must communicate your expectations of employee performance.

You must communicate that each employee is important to the success of the organization.

If you communicate with employees in a positive way, they will be more inclined to deal with your patients, clients, customers, or members in a positive way.

Al Borowski brings more than twenty years of sales and communication experience to his action-packed keynote speeches and workshops.

His exciting, innovative approach draws on years of practical application as a sales manager, business development manager, customer service manager, and business owner.

His background also includes four years as an English teacher. He is a published author and a professional musician.

To bring Al in to speak at your next convention, confernece, or meeting, you can visit him at http://www.alborowski.comAbout the Author
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Tags: communication skills, gestures, facial expressions, healing process, vertebrae, health care field, prejudices, medical procedures, patient care