Effective Communication Calls Upon Us to Share Power….Hmmmmmm, maybe that’s why it is so hard?

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As an applied improv teacher, nurse, woman, mother, sister, and friend, I think a lot about communication!  I study the impact it has on outcomes in healthcare such as patient safety, patient experience, morale, and utilization of resources.  I reflect on my own behaviors in the relationships in my life.  And I often wonder how it pertains to our challenging political landscape.  Our ability to be our best selves with others in family, groups, teams, organizations, and countries while making room for others to do the same is fascinating to me.  And quite complex!

Improv provides practice for sharing responsibility in a fun way in a supportive environment! Click To Tweet

Do you ever think about assertiveness and listening with respect to power dynamics? Assertiveness requires ownership and a willingness to take on more power while listening requires us to let others influence any decision, plan, or idea, i.e. give up some power. Either of these can be emotionally risky and can shake our sense of self, confidence, and control beyond measure.

When we add a toxic hierarchy, a blaming or bullying culture, or high-stakes work to the mix, the risk involved in taking on or sharing accountability increases….increases a lot. So much so, that the risk involved in sharing power is a formidable barrier to effective communication!   Quite frankly, I believe this is a major reason why our efforts to improve communication in healthcare have not been as successful as they need to be.

This is why applied or medical improv activities are a goldmine for us.  They provide low risk and fun opportunities to practice sharing power outside the clinical environment that can be so stressful.  If we can do this in healthcare, not only will we have better outcomes, we interface with all of the rich diversity of human life.  We can model empowering language and behaviors across genders, races, age, political parties, and so on!  Wow, right?

Where is your growing edge?  With listening or assertiveness?  Or maybe both depending on what relationships or cultures you are in?

Check out the Amazon reviews of my new book, “Medical Improv:  A New Way to Improve Communication” and lead some transformative training for your team or organization!


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What are your thoughts?