Author Topic: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?  (Read 8208 times)

lifejoy

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My husband is doing his fellowship to be a specialist doctor.

He has had a few bad reviews describing his communication style, and has now been put on some kind of remedial extension for his program so they can watch and coach his interactions. Sucky!

Any ideas on how to change one's personality in order to make things go smoother at work? Keep in mind: how friendly are you at 2am when someone is dying in front of you? Yeah.

Bottom line is that sometimes he raises his voice without realising, sometimes his empathy is low, sometimes he is very stubborn and/or authoritative. He doesn't have a problem with questioning authority. He grew up having fun debates with his family members, but to outsiders they sound like heated arguments. Any ideas? I've suggested meditation and/or yoga in order to keep his mental state at cool calm waters even when shit goes down. He has already read "How to win friends and influence people".

Suggestions would be appreciated as this has been a recurrent theme in his career. He'd make a great CEO but right now he needs to play nice and make everyone around him happy.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2016, 09:59:35 PM »
Is this mostly with the other docs, with nurses, or with patients?

Once the nurses have it in for you, they can make your life miserable. Recovery is possible but difficult.
If it's with other docs, it can be even worse. I don't agree with the medical hierarchy at all, but it sounds like he needs some damage control for the moment. He probably won't be able to improve the system until he's an attending, if ever.
If it's with patients, he's in luck because at least he won't have to see the same ones who already don't like him daily for the next few years.

So what to do?

- Bring donuts for the nurses. Or bagels. Or pizza. Whatever. Make sure you show up with or order something that tastes good and is bad for you when you're there early in the morning or overnight. It's well worth whatever money it costs.

- Realize that in the current hierarchy, students, residents, and even fellows are lower than dirt. They have no rights to opinions unless those opinions are first voiced by the attendings. It doesn't matter if said trainee had a prestigious job prior to medical training or knows more about a subject than an attending. While in training he's treated like a kid.

- Smile a lot. Hold doors. Bite your tongue. Smile some more. Come early. Stay late. Don't complain. Smile some more.

- Put a worry stone or stress ball in your coat pocket if you need to, but don't say anything out loud that isn't positive while you're at work.

- Complain as much as you need to at home. But only with people you trust completely.

- Try to sign up for The Sullivan Group training modules/videos about patient satisfaction. They're totally corny, but the techniques work. Smile. Introduce yourself. Call the patient by Mr./Mrs. Last Name. Sit down. Wash your hands. Don't interrupt. Make a show of being thorough. Think out loud and talk through options with the patients. Discuss the plan of care. Underpromise and overdeliver in terms of wait times.

- Treat EVERYONE like you're on a job interview. Be super-polite, patient, and kind. Go out of your way to be helpful. You ARE on an interview--it's to KEEP your job.

He might think that by being nicer he'll be slow and will be criticized for this. It is true to some extent, but right now he can get away with being slower than molasses as long as he's nice.

When he finishes training, he should get as far away from that place as he can. He might have changed completely by that time and he needs to get away from his old reputation.

Taran Wanderer

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2016, 10:44:48 PM »
I have someone at work with similar challenges, and to be honest, I may have some of the same.  Julie's advice is great.  I would emphasize a few things:

1.  Slow down. Your DH is probably brilliant. Most people aren't. Sick people, even brilliant ones, definitely aren't.  Relax, slow down, channel Buddha.

2.  Listen.  Everyone wants to be heard. Patients, nurses, fellow doctors. Actively listen to them.

3.  Show that he cares. People don't care how much you know unless they know how much you care.

It's hard to change. When your mind works a million miles and hour, you know what needs to be done, and you're great at doing it, you can focus on the solution and action to your own detriment. Unless it's an emergency room, an active surgery, or a code call where life is literally on the line at that very moment, there has to be time for life's niceties.

lifejoy

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2016, 07:54:16 AM »
Is this mostly with the other docs, with nurses, or with patients?

Once the nurses have it in for you, they can make your life miserable. Recovery is possible but difficult.
If it's with other docs, it can be even worse. I don't agree with the medical hierarchy at all, but it sounds like he needs some damage control for the moment. He probably won't be able to improve the system until he's an attending, if ever.
If it's with patients, he's in luck because at least he won't have to see the same ones who already don't like him daily for the next few years.

So what to do?

- Bring donuts for the nurses. Or bagels. Or pizza. Whatever. Make sure you show up with or order something that tastes good and is bad for you when you're there early in the morning or overnight. It's well worth whatever money it costs.

- Realize that in the current hierarchy, students, residents, and even fellows are lower than dirt. They have no rights to opinions unless those opinions are first voiced by the attendings. It doesn't matter if said trainee had a prestigious job prior to medical training or knows more about a subject than an attending. While in training he's treated like a kid.

- Smile a lot. Hold doors. Bite your tongue. Smile some more. Come early. Stay late. Don't complain. Smile some more.

- Put a worry stone or stress ball in your coat pocket if you need to, but don't say anything out loud that isn't positive while you're at work.

- Complain as much as you need to at home. But only with people you trust completely.

- Try to sign up for The Sullivan Group training modules/videos about patient satisfaction. They're totally corny, but the techniques work. Smile. Introduce yourself. Call the patient by Mr./Mrs. Last Name. Sit down. Wash your hands. Don't interrupt. Make a show of being thorough. Think out loud and talk through options with the patients. Discuss the plan of care. Underpromise and overdeliver in terms of wait times.

- Treat EVERYONE like you're on a job interview. Be super-polite, patient, and kind. Go out of your way to be helpful. You ARE on an interview--it's to KEEP your job.

He might think that by being nicer he'll be slow and will be criticized for this. It is true to some extent, but right now he can get away with being slower than molasses as long as he's nice.

When he finishes training, he should get as far away from that place as he can. He might have changed completely by that time and he needs to get away from his old reputation.

Fantastic breakdown of ideas! Thank you so much. I'm not working in a hospital environment and I never have - so sometimes it's hard for me to come up with suggestions.

I have someone at work with similar challenges, and to be honest, I may have some of the same.  Julie's advice is great.  I would emphasize a few things:

1.  Slow down. Your DH is probably brilliant. Most people aren't. Sick people, even brilliant ones, definitely aren't.  Relax, slow down, channel Buddha.

2.  Listen.  Everyone wants to be heard. Patients, nurses, fellow doctors. Actively listen to them.

3.  Show that he cares. People don't care how much you know unless they know how much you care.

It's hard to change. When your mind works a million miles and hour, you know what needs to be done, and you're great at doing it, you can focus on the solution and action to your own detriment. Unless it's an emergency room, an active surgery, or a code call where life is literally on the line at that very moment, there has to be time for life's niceties.

This is my husband. Brilliant, and thinks very quickly. I think he has to wrench himself away from his thoughts to get back to reality where people are processing more slowly.

--

Most of the conflict at work is between himself and attending staff or nurses. Once he made a joke that a patient thought was inappropriate. Hospitals are hard!! Talk about scrutinizing your personality... ugh!

Keep the ideas coming. I'm so glad that Julie mentioned bring food - that was the only thing I came up with but it's great to have it echoed.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2016, 08:21:23 AM »
One other suggestion is to open up a bit more so people see him as human. He's not Superman--no one is-- and his colleages will appreciate his openness/vulnerability.

Show some photos of kids, dogs, etc. Talk about hobbies (as long as there's genuine interest and no bragging). Find some common ground with everyone. Did you used to live in the same city? Doyou love the same sports teams? Did you go on vacation at the same place? Do you both like some eclectic video game or genre of music?

Get them to see the person inside the doctor.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2016, 08:37:07 AM »
Don't tell people they're wrong unless it will impact on a work (in his case, patient) outcome. That's a tough one if you're well educated and/or read widely and have a decent memory, as people will make false or inaccurate assertions around you constantly and you spend a lot of time Not Telling Them They Are Wrong. Humans like you better when you pretend not to know any better than they do.

Can he learn friendly chitchat as an artificial social construct to help him blend in?

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2016, 09:39:19 AM »
Quote
as people will make false or inaccurate assertions around you constantly and you spend a lot of time Not Telling Them They Are Wrong

I feel like I spend more time doing this than actual work at my job. But it is possible to show you are an expert while still appearing humble. Never tell someone they are wrong, but you can speak up during a discussion.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2016, 09:45:53 AM »
One other suggestion is to open up a bit more so people see him as human. He's not Superman--no one is-- and his colleages will appreciate his openness/vulnerability.

Show some photos of kids, dogs, etc. Talk about hobbies (as long as there's genuine interest and no bragging). Find some common ground with everyone. Did you used to live in the same city? Doyou love the same sports teams? Did you go on vacation at the same place? Do you both like some eclectic video game or genre of music?

Get them to see the person inside the doctor.

Good idea! I wonder if he has gone down this path. At his past job his was close friends with a lot of the people he worked with, and I think that helped a great deal.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2016, 09:54:05 AM »
Don't tell people they're wrong unless it will impact on a work (in his case, patient) outcome. That's a tough one if you're well educated and/or read widely and have a decent memory, as people will make false or inaccurate assertions around you constantly and you spend a lot of time Not Telling Them They Are Wrong. Humans like you better when you pretend not to know any better than they do.

Can he learn friendly chitchat as an artificial social construct to help him blend in?

DH is GREAT at intellectual discussion. I find that friendly chitchat is really really hard for him. How would one develop that skill? Please let me know if you're aware of any books or websites that help a person adopt that style of interaction! :)

Don't tell people they're wrong unless if affect patient outcome... haha well that's a tricky one. DH tends to often think it affects patients outcome. Very good point though. People hate to be told they're wrong. DH can come across as opinionated or argumentative, but I believe that's how he comes across if you don't know him. He doesn't mean it the way it sounds, it's just how he is used to communicating. His whole family debates things this way! It's amazing to me.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2016, 10:01:13 AM »
Following. (Just seems like great stuff for ANYONE to learn, me included!)

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2016, 10:01:23 AM »
The first husband of a dear friend got this feedback throughout his medical training. He ending up switching into emergency medicine, where bedside manner is not so important, and has been very successful.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2016, 10:05:19 AM »
The first husband of a dear friend got this feedback throughout his medical training. He ending up switching into emergency medicine, where bedside manner is not so important, and has been very successful.

This is a good suggestion, thank you! I'm not sure that will work as an option for my DH, because emergency situations tend to make him more... erm, direct. And some people do not respond well to directness, they need a little more softness around the edges. Fair enough!

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2016, 10:06:00 AM »
Following. (Just seems like great stuff for ANYONE to learn, me included!)

I agree! We can all up our game! Reading "How to Win Friends and Influence People" did a lot for me even though I felt like I was already pretty good.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2016, 10:30:45 AM »
This is a radical solution, but has he considered jumping south of the border? In a place like NYC, excessive directness is regarded as a positive personal trait.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2016, 10:51:04 AM »
Whenever he feels he has to disagree with someone, your DH needs to start what he says by agreeing with them.  So if someone says "this patient should have treatment X" his reply should be "I agree this patient should have treatment X, and perhaps before we do treatment X it might be a good idea to try treatment Y because [reasons]".  Works a treat.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2016, 10:58:01 AM »
This is a radical solution, but has he considered jumping south of the border? In a place like NYC, excessive directness is regarded as a positive personal trait.

Interesting suggestion! I like the out-of-the-box thinking!

Maybe NYC is more his scene :)

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2016, 10:58:32 AM »
Whenever he feels he has to disagree with someone, your DH needs to start what he says by agreeing with them.  So if someone says "this patient should have treatment X" his reply should be "I agree this patient should have treatment X, and perhaps before we do treatment X it might be a good idea to try treatment Y because [reasons]".  Works a treat.

This is perfect! Thanks for the script. I think this will work really well for him! And I'm going to try it too!

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2016, 11:39:56 AM »
Not acting like an a hole to people seems to work well.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2016, 11:49:54 AM »
My husband is doing his fellowship to be a specialist doctor.

He has had a few bad reviews describing his communication style, and has now been put on some kind of remedial extension for his program so they can watch and coach his interactions. Sucky!

Any ideas on how to change one's personality in order to make things go smoother at work? Keep in mind: how friendly are you at 2am when someone is dying in front of you? Yeah.

Bottom line is that sometimes he raises his voice without realising, sometimes his empathy is low, sometimes he is very stubborn and/or authoritative. He doesn't have a problem with questioning authority. He grew up having fun debates with his family members, but to outsiders they sound like heated arguments. Any ideas? I've suggested meditation and/or yoga in order to keep his mental state at cool calm waters even when shit goes down. He has already read "How to win friends and influence people".

Suggestions would be appreciated as this has been a recurrent theme in his career. He'd make a great CEO but right now he needs to play nice and make everyone around him happy.

Have him practice with you to speak softly.
It works, even when what you have to say upsets folks.
A professor did this with her students when she was told she was yelling.
Of course, she never yelled, but the students grasped at straws.
Being a low talker is helpful.
With the hard of hearing, ask politely if you can get closer to patient's ears.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2016, 12:07:48 PM »
It's interesting that a lot of the requirement falls on the one vs the other. At one point in my work, I learned that people thought I was mad at them when I looked up from my computer. What I didn't know was that the expression on my face was very similar to that which many people have when they are angry. What they didn't know was that this was my "concentrating" face, and that they were waltzing in willynilly and interrupting the deep zone. Yet, they did not expect themselves to: check their interpretation, make an appointment, etc. They expected my deep concentration face, and shifting speed, to be different. This is a tricky thing in many humans.

I don't remember if it was an 'HSP at work' or an 'introvert at work' book that helped me see how my focus clashed with some people's needs, and gave me strategies.

Something I'm seeing in my old age is that one group of people interprets, judges, etc, and another doesn't. The former are hard to work with, because you're essentially asked to present to each one according to their interpretations, how their dad behaved when they were four, etc. It's not possible to "be all things to all men" so we're bound to get in trouble regardless of how hard we try to be considerate. The latter group, though, is easy-peasy, all of us coming to each other open to variations in approach, tone, volume, speed, etc, assuming the best intent, giving the benefit of the doubt, etc.

But yeah, the more people a person encounters, the more likely it is she will encounter people who interpret, etc. There are some people around me that I see as pretty close to perfect interpersonally—kind, open, nonjudgmental, soft—and they still get it from some. That blows me away.

In our tiny community, we have three women who are really loud and direct and directive. One gets no leeway, because it's all she does. The second gets some leeway, but some wariness, because she gives some and takes some. The third gets lots of leeway because she gives a lot: works hard, is cheerful, tries again. None of us is perfect, but I notice the extra social points this one gets in the face of her loudness and abruptness.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #21 on: June 25, 2016, 12:19:11 PM »
Whenever he feels he has to disagree with someone, your DH needs to start what he says by agreeing with them.  So if someone says "this patient should have treatment X" his reply should be "I agree this patient should have treatment X, and perhaps before we do treatment X it might be a good idea to try treatment Y because [reasons]".  Works a treat.

This is perfect! Thanks for the script. I think this will work really well for him! And I'm going to try it too!
It doesn't have to be that exact script, of course, as long as the principle of "positive statement before negative statement" is followed.  For instance -

"You seem on top of things at the moment, do you have time for X?"
"I see you are an expert at using technique X, are you aware of technique Y? I prefer it for this patient because [reasons]".

And so on.  The aim is to become so expert at hiding the negative that the recipient doesn't even realise, rather like not feeling the assassin's stiletto.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #22 on: June 25, 2016, 12:41:26 PM »
The first husband of a dear friend got this feedback throughout his medical training. He ending up switching into emergency medicine, where bedside manner is not so important, and has been very successful.

As an emergency physician, I can see how this would make sense at first glance. However, the best emergency physicians are the ones who can quickly build rapport and trust with their colleagues and patients. If patients don't feel comfortable, they will lie, lie, lie. The truth is important in finding the correct diagnosis.

Where else do you meet someone and three minutes later have to ask them about their sexual history? And sometimes an hour or two later have to tell them they have cancer or that a loved one has died/is dying?

Excellent bedside manner in the ED, both with patients and with families, is invaluable. Good relations with the nurses WILL save patient lives. If the nurses don't like you or think you'll react poorly, they'll withhold key information and assistance.

I also agree with many excellent comments above. Perhaps your DH has a stern look while concentrating. As I said earlier, a smile makes a huge difference. If someone interuupts him, he should smile and say "How can I help?", not "What/Huh/Whaddya want?"

Have him think of a beloved person whom he always treats gently--a child, niece/nephew, a grandparent--and imagine that everyone in that hospital is this person. If his beloved person said something untrue or ridiculous, how would he respond? Now treat everyone with that same kindness.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2016, 12:48:47 PM »
The first husband of a dear friend got this feedback throughout his medical training. He ending up switching into emergency medicine, where bedside manner is not so important, and has been very successful.

As an emergency physician, I can see how this would make sense at first glance. However, the best emergency physicians are the ones who can quickly build rapport and trust with their colleagues and patients. If patients don't feel comfortable, they will lie, lie, lie. The truth is important in finding the correct diagnosis.

Where else do you meet someone and three minutes later have to ask them about their sexual history? And sometimes an hour or two later have to tell them they have cancer or that a loved one has died/is dying?

Excellent bedside manner in the ED, both with patients and with families, is invaluable. Good relations with the nurses WILL save patient lives. If the nurses don't like you or think you'll react poorly, they'll withhold key information and assistance.

I also agree with many excellent comments above. Perhaps your DH has a stern look while concentrating. As I said earlier, a smile makes a huge difference. If someone interuupts him, he should smile and say "How can I help?", not "What/Huh/Whaddya want?"

Have him think of a beloved person whom he always treats gently--a child, niece/nephew, a grandparent--and imagine that everyone in that hospital is this person. If his beloved person said something untrue or ridiculous, how would he respond? Now treat everyone with that same kindness.

I like that approach. I'm thinking of suggesting that he pretend everyone at work is ME. He definitely treats me with respect and kindness, but I've pretty much called him out if I ever see him acting in a way that doesn't resonate with me. If we're having a discussion and his voice is getting louder, I put a hand on his shoulder and say quietly and calmly, "Hey, I'm right here. Talk to me like we're on the same team."

This is tough stuff though!! I found a great-looking book: https://www.amazon.com/Emotional-Intelligence-2-0-Travis-Bradberry/dp/0974320625/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Sounds good.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2016, 02:02:45 PM »
[
Have him practice with you to speak softly.
It works, even when what you have to say upsets folks.
A professor did this with her students when she was told she was yelling.
Of course, she never yelled, but the students grasped at straws.
Being a low talker is helpful.
With the hard of hearing, ask politely if you can get closer to patient's ears.

I just read an article about the anniversary of the movie "The Devil Wears Prada" where Meryl Streep plays an absolutely terrifying magazine editor. One of the other actors recalled that everyone expected her to act the role with shouting and blustering and were shocked on the day of the first script reading to find that she was playing the role at a whisper (very, very effectively). When asked, Streep said that she had learned it from Clint Eastwood, who had directed her in The Bridges of Madison County. Apparently Clint Eastwood never, ever raises his voice. He simply expects people to listen to what he is saying, and they do. Shouting would indicate that his opinion is less correct because he has to use a forceful volume to overcome its flaws. If it works for Dirty Harry, it might work for your husband!

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #25 on: June 25, 2016, 02:07:38 PM »
[
Have him practice with you to speak softly.
It works, even when what you have to say upsets folks.
A professor did this with her students when she was told she was yelling.
Of course, she never yelled, but the students grasped at straws.
Being a low talker is helpful.
With the hard of hearing, ask politely if you can get closer to patient's ears.

I just read an article about the anniversary of the movie "The Devil Wears Prada" where Meryl Streep plays an absolutely terrifying magazine editor. One of the other actors recalled that everyone expected her to act the role with shouting and blustering and were shocked on the day of the first script reading to find that she was playing the role at a whisper (very, very effectively). When asked, Streep said that she had learned it from Clint Eastwood, who had directed her in The Bridges of Madison County. Apparently Clint Eastwood never, ever raises his voice. He simply expects people to listen to what he is saying, and they do. Shouting would indicate that his opinion is less correct because he has to use a forceful volume to overcome its flaws. If it works for Dirty Harry, it might work for your husband!

I agree - super effective! In fact, the softer you speak, the more other people will shaddup and strain to hear your voice. If you yell, they just try to tune you out. Super neat trick! I've shared that with DH in the past, but it is worth bringing up again.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2016, 04:41:23 PM »
I have a rule for myself at work, which I often hate but which I think has saved my bacon a lot of times: Never directly contradict someone. I'm not an aggressive person but I also fail at navigating the complex world of social niceties and other people's unexpected feelings. So when I'm at work, even if someone says something really wrong or really stupid, I never contradict them. (It helps that we're not saving lives...)

Examples:

Coworker: "I heard that we voted to remain in the EU!"
Me: "Oh, really? I thought we'd voted to leave." (In my head: "No we didn't, you fucking moron.")

Coworker: "I think we should do [thing that we definitely should not do]."
Me: "Why is that?" (In my head: "You had that idea last week and we explained why it wouldn't work.")
Coworker: "[Stupid explanation]"
Me: "You know, I had been wondering if we should do [thing that we definitely should do] instead." (In my head: "Obviously we should do what I think we should do.")

Coworker: "So we hit our sales target today!"
Me: "Oh, it's just that someone told me we were 50% behind our goal." (In my head: "No we really didn't.")

I've bolded the "script" bits I use. I also cultivate a cheerily animated yet ultimately neutral tone of voice, and make an active effort to smile when people talk to me and react to what they're saying (like tilting my head to one side or raising my eyebrows). I basically play up to the persona of being a bit naive and not very confident in my opinions, particularly by adding qualifiers to everything I suggest. "I thought..." "I just wondered..." "Didn't someone say that...?" "Someone told me..." "Sorry, maybe I'm being a bit slow, but..." It was extremely hard work at first, but it comes quite easily now.

I'm am generally perceived as being intelligent by people (more so than I think I actually am) so I'm pretty comfortable taking that perception down a notch or two but still coming across as well-informed and efficient. If I thought someone thought I was actually stupid I would probably act differently. This is my special work/acquaintance persona, though - I don't trot it out for friends. Basically, the "ruder" (more honest and direct) I am to you, the closer I consider our friendship to be.

Choices

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #27 on: June 25, 2016, 05:31:23 PM »
I have a rule for myself at work, which I often hate but which I think has saved my bacon a lot of times: Never directly contradict someone. I'm not an aggressive person but I also fail at navigating the complex world of social niceties and other people's unexpected feelings. So when I'm at work, even if someone says something really wrong or really stupid, I never contradict them. (It helps that we're not saving lives...)

Examples:

Coworker: "I heard that we voted to remain in the EU!"
Me: "Oh, really? I thought we'd voted to leave." (In my head: "No we didn't, you fucking moron.")

Coworker: "I think we should do [thing that we definitely should not do]."
Me: "Why is that?" (In my head: "You had that idea last week and we explained why it wouldn't work.")
Coworker: "[Stupid explanation]"
Me: "You know, I had been wondering if we should do [thing that we definitely should do] instead." (In my head: "Obviously we should do what I think we should do.")

Coworker: "So we hit our sales target today!"
Me: "Oh, it's just that someone told me we were 50% behind our goal." (In my head: "No we really didn't.")

I've bolded the "script" bits I use. I also cultivate a cheerily animated yet ultimately neutral tone of voice, and make an active effort to smile when people talk to me and react to what they're saying (like tilting my head to one side or raising my eyebrows). I basically play up to the persona of being a bit naive and not very confident in my opinions, particularly by adding qualifiers to everything I suggest. "I thought..." "I just wondered..." "Didn't someone say that...?" "Someone told me..." "Sorry, maybe I'm being a bit slow, but..." It was extremely hard work at first, but it comes quite easily now.

I'm am generally perceived as being intelligent by people (more so than I think I actually am) so I'm pretty comfortable taking that perception down a notch or two but still coming across as well-informed and efficient. If I thought someone thought I was actually stupid I would probably act differently. This is my special work/acquaintance persona, though - I don't trot it out for friends. Basically, the "ruder" (more honest and direct) I am to you, the closer I consider our friendship to be.

LOL. Most of the time I decide it isn't worth the effort and just smile and nod :)

Choices

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2016, 06:17:19 PM »
@lifejoy it's also important that you BOTH get as much support as you can outside of the hospital. He's incredibly lucky to have you in his corner, but the next year or so will be very hard for both of you. You'll need friends and family in your corner who are good listeners but who don't let you dwell in the dumps.

Find time to schedule things that are important to you, preferably in nature and without technology. Exercise. Practice good sleep hygiene. Go together to a counselor if needed. Message me anytime if you want to talk. I've seen so many of my docs go through this, and they really do come out better on the other side.

Final thoughts-is there any chance at all that there's a hidden addiction? Alcohol, drugs, porn, shopping, anything at all? If so, without addressing this first, nothing else will change.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2016, 04:43:30 PM by Choices »

pk_aeryn

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #29 on: June 25, 2016, 06:31:34 PM »
I know your heart is in the right place and your family depends on him being successful, but I'm curious why you're here on here asking instead of him?  If he really wants to improve, he needs to be reaching out himself for help, IMO.  One of the things you can do is encourage him to take on more of this kind of emotional labor himself which is a skill that is going to make him seem more sympathetic.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #30 on: June 26, 2016, 07:15:44 AM »
As a long time former ER nurse and now exec: all of this is critical in all medical situations to be successful. And that collegiality will also keep the patients safer bc a huge part ties to that interactions clinicians and providers can have.

He doesn't actually need to establish a more personal interaction if he doesn't want. But he needs to listen and also be direct if he needs certain info he isn't getting from staff, without being curt. Bedside manner matters everywhere although the types of humor and culture vary. Also, what it takes to execute a treatment plan vs diagnose and order one, requires the human touch. Patients have a right to question and refuse and it's our job to get them to the right mindset. Let alone all the technical aspects in the way executing that plan.

Does he truly respect the others he's working with?  Bc if it's gotten to this point, he probably doesn't and it's apparent to everyone around him. The nurses and other medical staff certainly gang up at times but the majority of the time it's bc the interactions aren't effective. Some people have different working styles and it's absolutely ok to own those. But you need to merge to a point of being effective. The hard part is healthcare can sometimes foster less than mature professional cultures when you're trying to resolve it. He will need to do this time and again. Take a step back. Look at the culture. What can he do to contribute (not change others) to a culture of safety and excellence, given who he is and what he's got to work with.

ETA: I'm not a typical warm fuzzy nurse, so don't let that color the perspective. But I have definitely seen how bad relationships impact patient safety. It's one of those jobs where it goes beyond the employees involved. I never clicked with some of my fellow nurses personality-wise, but you find a way to work with all types.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2016, 07:22:06 AM by ETBen »

MaggieDrsg

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #31 on: June 26, 2016, 09:33:56 AM »
As ETBen & Julie explained, this is a safety issue in addition to a fairly serious professional issue if it is bad enough that he is getting special coaching for it.  I would highly suggest re-framing it as a safety & professional issue - "workplace politics" has an entirely different connotation which may not warrant the same level of action.

Can he access some gratitude for the program, his coworkers, and his patients for getting a second chance to work on these skills while still in training?  Finding a few extra seconds 5-10x a day to say thank you could be a tangible challenge to go along with some of the other suggestions.  "Good Afternoon Patient X, Thank you for your patience in waiting to see me/us."  "Thank you Nurse or Nursing Assistant A for bringing me up to speed on changes in patient Y and for informing/reminding me about issue Z."


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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #32 on: June 26, 2016, 10:27:22 AM »
@lifejoy it's also important that you BOTH get as much support as you can outside of the hospital. He's incredibly lucky to have you in his corner, but the next year or so will be very hard for both of you. You'll need friends and family in your corner who are good listeners but who don't let you dwell in the dumps.

Find time to schedule things that are important to you, preferably in nature and without technology. Exercise. Practice good sleep hygiene. Go together to a counselor if needed. Message me anytime if you want to talk. I've seen so many of my docs go through this, and they really do come out better on the other side. Here are a few posts that might help.

http://www.choosebetterlife.com/say-yes-to-your-priorities/
http://www.choosebetterlife.com/get-sleep-youve-always-dreamed-of/
http://www.choosebetterlife.com/the-four-agreements/

Final thoughts-is there any chance at all that there's a hidden addiction? Alcohol, drugs, porn, shopping, anything at all? If so, without addressing this first, nothing else will change.

Ahhhh Julie I could hug you!!! Thank you for making me feel cared about - I will be the first to admit that this past year (first year of fellowship plus him studying for the royal collage exam) has been HARD for me. Really hard. Like where did my husband go? Hard. I've been making sure to keep my social life active so that I get out and away from the bubble of medicine. I am also super grateful that I'm not also a doctor - we know a lot of doctor couples and I have no idea how they do it. I will read ALL of the links you sent me. Thank you!

As for DH having an addiction, the only thing that I would be aware of is programming ;) ! It's his escape. When he finished the royal college exam he had a new idea for an app, and I was like, "oh no, I'm not going to see much of your for the next few weeks, am I?" He makes an effort.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #33 on: June 26, 2016, 10:29:18 AM »
I know your heart is in the right place and your family depends on him being successful, but I'm curious why you're here on here asking instead of him?  If he really wants to improve, he needs to be reaching out himself for help, IMO.  One of the things you can do is encourage him to take on more of this kind of emotional labor himself which is a skill that is going to make him seem more sympathetic.

He's not the type to ask on MMM. I am, and I know he wouldn't mind. I've gotten so much incredible advice on here that I simply couldn't resist :)

He is looking down other avenues. He's made an appointment with a psychiatrist to rule out things like ADD or Asperger's. My DH really is a unique guy who thinks differently than anyone I've ever met, so I think it's wise that he's investigating this path.

I can't see my DH hurting and not want to help! I don't know how to support him, so I come on here just as much for him as for me. Make sense?

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #34 on: June 26, 2016, 10:33:31 AM »
As a long time former ER nurse and now exec: all of this is critical in all medical situations to be successful. And that collegiality will also keep the patients safer bc a huge part ties to that interactions clinicians and providers can have.

He doesn't actually need to establish a more personal interaction if he doesn't want. But he needs to listen and also be direct if he needs certain info he isn't getting from staff, without being curt. Bedside manner matters everywhere although the types of humor and culture vary. Also, what it takes to execute a treatment plan vs diagnose and order one, requires the human touch. Patients have a right to question and refuse and it's our job to get them to the right mindset. Let alone all the technical aspects in the way executing that plan.

Does he truly respect the others he's working with?  Bc if it's gotten to this point, he probably doesn't and it's apparent to everyone around him. The nurses and other medical staff certainly gang up at times but the majority of the time it's bc the interactions aren't effective. Some people have different working styles and it's absolutely ok to own those. But you need to merge to a point of being effective. The hard part is healthcare can sometimes foster less than mature professional cultures when you're trying to resolve it. He will need to do this time and again. Take a step back. Look at the culture. What can he do to contribute (not change others) to a culture of safety and excellence, given who he is and what he's got to work with.

ETA: I'm not a typical warm fuzzy nurse, so don't let that color the perspective. But I have definitely seen how bad relationships impact patient safety. It's one of those jobs where it goes beyond the employees involved. I never clicked with some of my fellow nurses personality-wise, but you find a way to work with all types.

You make great points. I think the trouble my DH has is not an inward lack of respect, but a perceived lack of respect. As an ENTJ he typically cares more about being right, than he does about being liked. He can be very convinced that he is right, and would love to be challenged and questioned but I don't think it comes across this way. It probably seems opinionated. I think that's the problem. Too much of a good thing, because I would imagine that doctors need to make decisions quickly and often and be confident in them.

You can picture an Elon Musk type character - super smart, super hardworking, but sometimes does not work well with others because, can't you see? - he's busy trying to save humans. A bit like that. Trouble is, my DH is not a CEO and needs to pick up some more skills for working well with a team.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #35 on: June 26, 2016, 10:35:25 AM »
As ETBen & Julie explained, this is a safety issue in addition to a fairly serious professional issue if it is bad enough that he is getting special coaching for it.  I would highly suggest re-framing it as a safety & professional issue - "workplace politics" has an entirely different connotation which may not warrant the same level of action.

Can he access some gratitude for the program, his coworkers, and his patients for getting a second chance to work on these skills while still in training?  Finding a few extra seconds 5-10x a day to say thank you could be a tangible challenge to go along with some of the other suggestions.  "Good Afternoon Patient X, Thank you for your patience in waiting to see me/us."  "Thank you Nurse or Nursing Assistant A for bringing me up to speed on changes in patient Y and for informing/reminding me about issue Z."

This is a GREAT idea. Easy to implement and practice.

Choices

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #36 on: June 26, 2016, 10:52:13 AM »
As a long time former ER nurse and now exec: all of this is critical in all medical situations to be successful. And that collegiality will also keep the patients safer bc a huge part ties to that interactions clinicians and providers can have.

He doesn't actually need to establish a more personal interaction if he doesn't want. But he needs to listen and also be direct if he needs certain info he isn't getting from staff, without being curt. Bedside manner matters everywhere although the types of humor and culture vary. Also, what it takes to execute a treatment plan vs diagnose and order one, requires the human touch. Patients have a right to question and refuse and it's our job to get them to the right mindset. Let alone all the technical aspects in the way executing that plan.

Does he truly respect the others he's working with?  Bc if it's gotten to this point, he probably doesn't and it's apparent to everyone around him. The nurses and other medical staff certainly gang up at times but the majority of the time it's bc the interactions aren't effective. Some people have different working styles and it's absolutely ok to own those. But you need to merge to a point of being effective. The hard part is healthcare can sometimes foster less than mature professional cultures when you're trying to resolve it. He will need to do this time and again. Take a step back. Look at the culture. What can he do to contribute (not change others) to a culture of safety and excellence, given who he is and what he's got to work with.

ETA: I'm not a typical warm fuzzy nurse, so don't let that color the perspective. But I have definitely seen how bad relationships impact patient safety. It's one of those jobs where it goes beyond the employees involved. I never clicked with some of my fellow nurses personality-wise, but you find a way to work with all types.

You make great points. I think the trouble my DH has is not an inward lack of respect, but a perceived lack of respect. As an ENTJ he typically cares more about being right, than he does about being liked. He can be very convinced that he is right, and would love to be challenged and questioned but I don't think it comes across this way. It probably seems opinionated. I think that's the problem. Too much of a good thing, because I would imagine that doctors need to make decisions quickly and often and be confident in them.

You can picture an Elon Musk type character - super smart, super hardworking, but sometimes does not work well with others because, can't you see? - he's busy trying to save humans. A bit like that. Trouble is, my DH is not a CEO and needs to pick up some more skills for working well with a team.
Excellent point. We try so hard as an extended family to teach the kids that it can be better to be kind than right. In medicine, there are times when you have to be right, but there are still a lot of times when things don't matter, like when people mispronounce medications or especially when people talk politics--just smile and nod.

I also agree 100% with saying thank you ALL. THE. TIME. It's huge. If someone helps him out during a shift, he should find that person and say a special thank you before he goes home, in addition to the thank you he said at the time of the action.

Hang in there, it will get better. Make sure to schedule date nights for just the two of you as well.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2016, 10:04:52 PM by Julie@ChooseBetterLife »

lifejoy

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #37 on: June 26, 2016, 10:56:01 AM »
As a long time former ER nurse and now exec: all of this is critical in all medical situations to be successful. And that collegiality will also keep the patients safer bc a huge part ties to that interactions clinicians and providers can have.

He doesn't actually need to establish a more personal interaction if he doesn't want. But he needs to listen and also be direct if he needs certain info he isn't getting from staff, without being curt. Bedside manner matters everywhere although the types of humor and culture vary. Also, what it takes to execute a treatment plan vs diagnose and order one, requires the human touch. Patients have a right to question and refuse and it's our job to get them to the right mindset. Let alone all the technical aspects in the way executing that plan.

Does he truly respect the others he's working with?  Bc if it's gotten to this point, he probably doesn't and it's apparent to everyone around him. The nurses and other medical staff certainly gang up at times but the majority of the time it's bc the interactions aren't effective. Some people have different working styles and it's absolutely ok to own those. But you need to merge to a point of being effective. The hard part is healthcare can sometimes foster less than mature professional cultures when you're trying to resolve it. He will need to do this time and again. Take a step back. Look at the culture. What can he do to contribute (not change others) to a culture of safety and excellence, given who he is and what he's got to work with.

ETA: I'm not a typical warm fuzzy nurse, so don't let that color the perspective. But I have definitely seen how bad relationships impact patient safety. It's one of those jobs where it goes beyond the employees involved. I never clicked with some of my fellow nurses personality-wise, but you find a way to work with all types.

You make great points. I think the trouble my DH has is not an inward lack of respect, but a perceived lack of respect. As an ENTJ he typically cares more about being right, than he does about being liked. He can be very convinced that he is right, and would love to be challenged and questioned but I don't think it comes across this way. It probably seems opinionated. I think that's the problem. Too much of a good thing, because I would imagine that doctors need to make decisions quickly and often and be confident in them.

You can picture an Elon Musk type character - super smart, super hardworking, but sometimes does not work well with others because, can't you see? - he's busy trying to save humans. A bit like that. Trouble is, my DH is not a CEO and needs to pick up some more skills for working well with a team.
Excellent point. We try so hard as an extended family to teach the kids that it can be better to be kind than right. In medicine, there are times when you have to be right, but there are still a lot of times when things don't matter, like when people mispronounce medications or especially when people talk politics--just smile and nod.

I also agree 100% with saying thank you ALL. THE. TIME. It's huge. If someone helps him out during a shift, he should find that person and say a special thank you before he goes home, in addition to the thank you he said at the time of the action.

Hang in there, it will get better. Make sure to schedule date nights for just the two of you as well.

Ahhh you are a wise woman! I've switched from having two jobs with variable schedules to one job with a SET SCHEDULE, evenings and weekends off! I think it's going to help us both immensely :D

Yes. We could all do with showing more gratitude in our lives! :)

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #38 on: June 26, 2016, 11:49:27 AM »
"It's better to be kind than right." I love the way you put that Julie, thank you!

I'm reading right along lifejoy, as my husband was born without the empathy gene too. He has done so many practical things to fix this (many that were suggested in this thread), that I think most people don't see him that way anymore. There is hope!

Naturally he married me, the person who can't see another person crying without bursting into tears myself, even if I don't know the reason. Lol!

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #39 on: June 26, 2016, 12:23:53 PM »
re:  cultivating empathy

Slightly different situation, but when I was having a really hard time with overwork/burnout at my job, and realized I was being really short/brusque with colleagues and clients as a result, and also not enjoying my work very much, I tried to make a shift by asking one key question every day:

Who did/can I help today?

Sometimes it was retroactive, looking back on the day, and sometimes proactive, in terms of planning and being mindful of my interactions.  Both directions helped, both in terms of my interactions with other people, and my own state of mind.  Most importantly, it set me up for a motivation of service to others, which helped me get out of my own negative headspace.  MIght be worth trying.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #40 on: June 27, 2016, 01:25:01 PM »
Have him practice active listening.  Read P.E.T.  Parent Effectiveness Training.  Yes, it's a parenting book.  But truly at it's roots it's about respectful communication, understanding others, and meeting everyone's needs without sacrificing your own.  I took a class based on it to have some tools to better deal with kids that don't always listen, but I find it is really effective with adults at work that I used to find difficult.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #41 on: July 27, 2016, 09:25:39 PM »
Lifejoy, just checking in to see how you guys are doing.
Hugs.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #42 on: July 28, 2016, 05:26:53 AM »
The first husband of a dear friend got this feedback throughout his medical training. He ending up switching into emergency medicine, where bedside manner is not so important, and has been very successful.

My ex-husband got this feedback during his medical training (medical school, internship, residency, and fellowship, and then in regular employment). He failed to heed it and ultimately lost his position and was passed over for promotion. I suspect the problem has persisted at his new employment, but he is no longer my problem. Good "coworking" skills are just as important as clinical skills in terms of professional advancement.

All the advice above is good. In summary - your goal is to have people HAPPY to see you. Be kind. Definitely bring doughnuts or cupcakes on the regular. Apologize if you act like a jerk then state that you got stressed and felt pressured - people can understand that. Don't act overly defensive. Be curious about the life of the others you work with - ask them about their weekend, remember their kid's names, inquire into how their vacation was or how their sick mom is doing.

If he is willing I would suggest that you guys role play some interactions and he works on developing some fairly standard "go tos" in terms of conversational and communication skills.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #43 on: July 28, 2016, 06:25:04 AM »

DH is GREAT at intellectual discussion. I find that friendly chitchat is really really hard for him. How would one develop that skill? Please let me know if you're aware of any books or websites that help a person adopt that style of interaction! :)

I find chit chat hard too. Small talk bores me to tears and I'd rather an intellectual discussion any day of the week.

To counteract my disdain for 'smalltalk', I've been trying to ask people more questions. Apparently people like to talk about themselves. Try and limit it to What, Who, When, Where, How questions because those Why questions tend to come out all judgemental like.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #44 on: July 28, 2016, 06:41:33 AM »
Great thread. I can definitely relate. More interested in solving the problem than niceties!

How about putting things this way? - Part of solving the patient's problem is treating them (or anyone on their medical team) as a whole person. That means, for many people in the general population who aren't the same personality type, learning to get on emotionally / socially.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #45 on: July 28, 2016, 06:57:33 AM »
You make great points. I think the trouble my DH has is not an inward lack of respect, but a perceived lack of respect. As an ENTJ he typically cares more about being right, than he does about being liked. He can be very convinced that he is right, and would love to be challenged and questioned but I don't think it comes across this way. It probably seems opinionated. I think that's the problem. Too much of a good thing, because I would imagine that doctors need to make decisions quickly and often and be confident in them.

You can picture an Elon Musk type character - super smart, super hardworking, but sometimes does not work well with others because, can't you see? - he's busy trying to save humans. A bit like that. Trouble is, my DH is not a CEO and needs to pick up some more skills for working well with a team.


Something I try to keep in mind:

Quote
They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Another is remembering that while I tend to not value the "people" aspect of work, solving a problem or accomplishing anything in any non-trivial sense at work involves the "people" aspect, too. So a solution that ignores or stomps on the people aspect really isn't a full solution.



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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #46 on: July 28, 2016, 07:07:37 AM »
There are really great suggestions on this thread.
My hat is off to Lifejoy the OP for trying to help your husband.
He is a very lucky man to be married to such a caring wife.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #47 on: July 28, 2016, 09:44:55 AM »
There are really great suggestions on this thread.
My hat is off to Lifejoy the OP for trying to help your husband.
He is a very lucky man to be married to such a caring wife.

...and he knows it! ;)

But thank you. I care about him so much and just want him to have the tools that make life easy.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #48 on: July 29, 2016, 12:53:53 AM »
Best advice I ever got from a leader in a very high place within a corporate 100 - I was a skip level from that level C was - "Be Generous" in your leadership no matter where you sit in an organization, bottom or top; and be open to learning from others in the moment as much as you are willing to teach otherwise you have wasted an opportunity and there are many moments that present those opportunities throughout the day - even when things are moving very fast and lives are on the line. It's easy to be impatient, it's easy to be dismissive and assume you are the one who is always right. But to do the opposite of those things is quite a challenge. Don't take the easy way out and be challenged by developing those interpersonal skills that will make for a far better doctor, he'll be able to see better - not just with his eyes, and catch things that he very well may be missing. This will make his life richer as well as those who's lives he is trying to save. It sounds like he is rushing through it all in frustration and that is now way to live and learn.

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Re: Workplace Politics: How to improve interpersonal communication?
« Reply #49 on: July 29, 2016, 05:39:52 AM »
His blunt communicatio style and quick thinking is a double edged sword, particularly in medicine. If he's too fast, people can't provide all the information required for the correct decision, which will occasionally hurt someone else. If he isn't getting on with other coworker's, even if he's nice to patients, the coworkers might be less friendly to patients while around him, and those patients can have long-term effects from that (e.g. long term PTSD or anxiety due to a bad experience). So it's good this is being picked up now. A lot is required of medical staff, but for very good reason. I'm also going to try some of the resources.

What helped me with the chit chat was learning just 1 thing about each person, and asking about that.