Isn’t this a sad quote?
And while my doctors all said they were aware of the issue, it still felt as if no one was listening. –from Seth Mnookin’s article in the Boston Globe, “I’m A Recovering Addict. So Why Did My Doctors Give Me Opioids And Leave Me On My Own?”?
Problems with respectful and effective communication are serious, persistent, and common in our healthcare system. And even though we are making exciting strides in promoting speaking up, we are missing important opportunities to emphasize listening. This is a big concern because listening is essential to the success of any efforts in promoting assertiveness and if we aren’t willing or able to listen we won’t be able to build and sustain cultures of safety. We need to increase our focus on listening skills and practice.
To drive this point home, consider how these three BIG initiatives for improving communication emphasize speaking up, but show little focus on listening.
- SBAR model for reporting clinical concerns or information during a handoff.
- The Joint Commission’s “Speak-up” initiative.
- TeamSTEPPS ‘Two-challenge’ Rule.
Granted these are great initiatives, but each of them could be stronger and more effective by incorporating strategies like these that emphasize listening!
- Use the GRRRR model for receiving information.
- Create a “We’re Listening” Campaign!
- Add a 3rd step to the “Two-challenge” Rule.
No doubt there are many other ideas out there waiting to be heard and once we decide to make listening a priority, it will become second nature to ensure that it is emphasized in all models and protocols.
What do you think? Are we’ paying enough attention to listening?