George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” It is amazing how we can work next to people on a daily basis yet never really communicate.
How People Think They Communicate
A study was done with 2,500 doctors who were asked to rank on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = never, 5 = always) the following statement: “I let my employees know when they are doing a good job.” The average response from the doctors was 4.4, meaning they believe they regularly communicate praise to their team.
As you may have guessed, the staff members of the 2,500 practices were asked the same question, to which they said they rarely receive praise from their doctors. That is quite a gap in perception, which takes us back to George Bernard Shaw’s quote about the illusion that communication has taken place.
How to Communicate Effectively
The most effective way to remove this illusion is to schedule regular one-on-one meetings with members of your team. Every month or two schedule half an hour where both of you discuss what is working well and what needs improvement. Focus the discussion on your working relationship, overall job duties, the patient experience, and the health of the practice.
I’ve co-facilitated a number of these meetings through the years and I am always impressed with the two-way flow of positive feedback, the sharing of expectations that help team members perform even better, and the innovative ideas that emerge from the conversation.
Remember, there is a big difference between day-to-day talk and reserving time to actually communicate. Strong teams are built on a foundation of effective communication, not on an illusion.
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