Why Don’t They Listen? A Universal Problem-Part II-Organizations, Management, & Healthcare

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By Jim Murphy and Beth Boynton

What about Organizations and Management?

Think of every organization you have worked for: how would you rate communication?  Obviously, a summary of surveys of all organizations is impossible, but if you have ever done one, you know that communication is always considered a problem.   “There is no communication,”  “what communication?” and “nobody listens to me” are typical and predominant survey responses. It has now become a commonplace of management thinking that leaders need to be listeners and a correlation has been shown to exist between leadership and listening skills.  Yet as one reads the business pages, one finds more about what leaders say that about what they have heard.   Since Lao Tzu, leaders skilled in the invisible art of listening have been advocated but evidently are in short supply. There are many management styles but in theory and practice speaking well rather than listening well is associated with almost all of them.  Heroic, authoritarian, and paternalistic and leaders strive to communicate and often have bestselling books; democratic-minded leaders may try harder to listen but are much less common.  What percent of the average manager’s time is spent in listening?

What about the Healthcare Environment?

The importance of listening in the healthcare environment is critical.  Miscommunication  can have fatal and costly results.  Medical schools are doing more to promote people skills, but the predominance of technical thinking has taken healthcare far away from its humanistic roots. Patients ask why the doctors and nurses don’t listen: “I’ve answered the same question five times but they keep asking it.”  Nurses wonder why doctors and administrators don’t listen, and doctors and administrators wonder how to get nurses to listen.  We know it is important for patients and nurses to “Speak up”  – yet how can we ensure someone is listening? And communication along with related human factors, and leadership are frustratingly persistent causes of sentinel events!

What thoughts and/or experiences do you have regarding listening in healthcare or in your work?  Who’s listening and who isn’t?  Is it worth talking about and if so, why?

jim murphyJim Murphy has a solo consulting practice called Management 3000, focusing on organizational development and change management. Being semi-retired, Jim is willing to provide very reasonably priced consulting, coaching or  project work for organizations aspiring to improvement in organizational culture, effectiveness and employee engagement. Formerly he led the Massachusetts Bay Organizational Development Learning Group, was Human Resources Director for the City of Boston Assessing Department, and served as a consultant with the Boston Management Consortium.  His consulting practice includes management coaching as well as research and writing on employee relationships, leadership, healthcare and collaborative practices.  Having produced newsletters for several organizations  and being a frequent content writer for the”Confident Voices in Healthcare” blog, he is interested in writing and research opportunities, as we all consulting and coaching. www.manage2001.com   jim@manage2001.com

BB closer Headshot 1-13 CherationsBeth Boynton RN, MS is a national speaker, organizational development consultant, and the author of the award-winning book, “Confident Voices:  The Nurses’ Guide to Improving Communication and Creating Positive Workplaces”.  She specializes in communication, collaboration, & emotional intelligence for healthcare professionals and organizations and is trained in the Professor Watson Curriculum for Medical Improv through Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She offers medical improv training for communication, emotional intelligence, culture change, and teambuilding efforts. Her video, “Interruption Awareness:  A Nursing Minute for Patient Safety” and blog, “Confident Voices in Healthcare” have drawn audiences from all over the world.  She is currently writing a core text with F.A. Davis Publishing Co. tentatively titled Successful Nurse Communication:  Safe Care, Positive Workplaces, & Rewarding Careers, practices as a Per Diem RN in a LTCF for folks with dementia, and a student of improv.  Her complete CV is online.

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One Response to Why Don’t They Listen? A Universal Problem-Part II-Organizations, Management, & Healthcare

  1. Pingback: Why Don’t They Listen? Part IV-Some Solutions

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