As doctors, nurses, or practitioners our days are guided by how well we communicate with others. We communicate as part of the team striving to deliver high standards of medical care. We communicate with patients, giving and receiving vital health related information so that together we can map out the next best steps so our patient outcomes reach their target. And we communicate with ourselves, every moment of every day, whether we acknowledge it or not.
Often it is our self talk that is the least effective form of communication. Our self talk affects everything we do. It guides us to react to a situation or to carefully think it through before we respond. It is our inner guide to happiness, sense of well being, job satisfaction, and success. Our self talk can boost the morale in the office or unit, or it can spread negativity like a disease.
Self talk is the words we utter to ourselves when we think no one is listening. It may be a grumble under our breath, a whisper, or a silent thought. There is always someone listening. You!
Bringing awareness to the inner conversations is the key to a successful career in medicine and a successful life filled with joy, happiness, and abundance. We begin by purposefully tuning into that conversation, rather than allowing it to unfold by default. Until we heighten our awareness, we will continue to look outside of ourselves for all the reasons why we are dissatisfied at the office, the hospital, and the unit. When we begin to look at the messages we are telling ourselves, we can find the solutions to communicating more effectively with staff and team members and connecting with our patients.
Connecting with those around us and having meaningful communication is important because it allows us to be of service in ways beyond the scope of medicine. A great day at work energizes, inspires, and boosts our confidence. A few unwelcome interactions drains our energy, brings out our inner critic, and spills over into our personal life.
Periodically check in and make the decision to direct your inner conversations so that they align with the outcomes you desire.
- Each morning ask yourself, “What is my intention for the day?” Few people wake up ready to embrace a bad day. Yet getting stuck in traffic and arriving late to the office causes us to see the rest of the challenging. We replay everything that supports this perspective. Instead, greet your day with the expectation that most things will flow easily. Patients will arrive on time so you can easily stay on schedule. Team members will exceed expectations so the day flows effortlessly. You are in your zone of excellence. Doesn’t that feel invigorating?
- Staying in the present moment is a fabulous way to monitor your self talk and silence your inner critic. Rather than allow that critic to replay past experiences when things go awry, focus on the moment in front of you. When life’s challenges present themselves, rather than looking at the break down, ask yourself, “What is the opportunity here? What am I being asked to learn?”
- The third step to guiding your communication is to ask yourself, “How important is it for me to be right?” We all have had conversations with team members, patients, family, and friends where we know in advance that it is heading towards a disagreement. When people are working together this disagreement can affect the entire team. It is at those times when a quiet moment of reflection will allow you to decide what will be the best course of action or inaction.
Doctors, nurses, and practitioners spend long hours with one another in clinical settings. Each shift we are transferring our energy to one another and to our patients. As we improve our communication skills with ourselves, we have the capacity to improve how we communicate and connect with others.