better health by designLearn More

How do you handle your equipment?

I remember how our science teacher at high school cleaned the blackboard with a duster. It was done methodically and mindfully. It set the scene for the lesson. It’s funny the things you notice. Your customer, client or patient is likely to notice how you handle the equipment in your office, shop or cafe. It may not occur to them immediately what was so remarkable about you but they will notice.  Treating inanimate objects with care adds to the to vibe. It’s part of the choreography as you practice your art.

Picture by tania peguero

Are you aware of your habits?

When the car is stopped at the lights you often put your fingers in your mouth.  Are you aware?

A habit is defined as:

Something that you do often and regularly, sometimes without knowing that you are doing it. Cambridge dictionary

A ritual is defined as:

A set of fixed actions and sometimes words performed regularly, especially as part of a ceremony. Cambridge dictionary

Habits can become a problem. Like doing the same thing for everyone who asks for your help with the ‘same’ issue.There is no thinking in habitual behavior. There are many habits that are unhelpful.

A ritual on the other hand can be chosen and practiced so that they are a part of your repertoire when you are faced with a particular challenge- like hand washing before greeting a patient if you are a healthcare professional. A ritual is performed with mindfulness and awareness. A ritual is deliberate and ceremonial, usually done with reverence and respect. So much better than picking your nose!

  • List your habits, including the nail biting.
  • List the rituals that might make you better at your job.

Picture by Michael W May

What problem can’t you solve?

Armed with a hammer everything looks like a nail- except it isn’t. We need to be clear what healthcare is for. Doctors cannot ‘cure’:

  • Debt
  • Workplace bullying
  • Violence
  • Illiteracy
  • Homelessness

In addition there are many other problems that may be beyond curative intervention and a few others that require people to make different choices more than the doctor to prescribe something.

The unbridled enthusiasm for guidelines, and the unrealistic expectations about what they will accomplish, frequently betrays inexperience and unfamiliarity with their limitations and potential hazards. Naive consumers of guidelines accept official recommendations on face value, especially when they carry the imprimatur of prominent professional groups or government bodies.

Woolfe et al BMJ

Picture by Bart

What do you have for morning tea?

Where I live ‘morning tea’ refers to a mid morning drink usually accompanied by a snack of some sort. It is likely that we all stop for a cuppa mid morning. It’s part of a ritual at work. Then we might stop for a snack mid afternoon and then again just before bed. Do you? How many calories over and above your meals do you consume? Are you having problems shifting those extra kilos?

Here’s a tool that will help you decide if you have a problem and if that problem is the food or why you eat: Hunger app

Picture by Duncan c

What did you think about on the way to work?

What did you think about as you made your way to work? Were you already at work in your head? Ruminating on the past? Worrying about the future? Did you grumble to yourself about the commute? The unreliable public transport? The traffic jam? The ‘idiot’ who cut you off at the junction? Did you read the ‘fake news’? Did you look at Instagram posts or catch up on Facebook? Were you one of those people yelling into your phone on the bus or tram?

Immediately following their regular commute to work, participants completed questionnaires regarding state driver stress and anger during that commute. Then, immediately following completion of that work day, they completed a state version of the Workplace Aggression Scale. As state driver stress increased, the frequency of both expressed hostility and obstructionism increased (independently) during that work day, but only among male employees. In contrast, overt aggression during that work day was greatest among males who were higher in physical aggressiveness as a general trait characteristic. The present study highlights the interactive nature of traffic and workplace environments, in that negative experiences in the traffic environment may spill over for some individuals to influence non driving events

Journal of Applied Social Psychology Dwight A. Hennessy

Picture by gato-gato-gato

Do you reflect?

Whether things go well or badly do you reflect on the experience? How? When? Why? What difference does it make? When was the last time someone said thank you? What was the context? What was your role in that exchange? How did that impact on your behavior in future exchanges?

If you’re interested in an easy way to improve your job performance and boost your career, it’s time to start a writing habit. A study from Harvard Business School tested whether taking 15 minutes at the end of a work day to reflect on that day’s work improved their performance and found the participants tasked with daily written reflection did 22.8 percent better on an assessment than the control group.

Hannah Hamilton

Picture by aaron gilson

What does your face say?

Are you aware what your facial muscles are doing when you are engaged in conversation? What about your neck and your shoulders? What do they leak about your mood? Your attitude? Your perspective? Is it possible they are sending entirely the wrong message?

Even though, there was no evidence found that displaying positive facial expression will increase the level of follower trust in their leader (both, affectively and cognitively) and their perceptions of leadership effectiveness, still the opposite was found to be true, which is a negative relationship between negative facial expressions and leadership effectiveness. This means, that the more the leader expresses negative facial cues such as lowered eyebrows and lip corners down, the less effective he or she is.

Pia Loeper, University of Twente

Picture by barclakj

Who taught you how to complain?

When during your training or your induction did anyone teach you how and when to express yourself when something did not meet with your expectations? Your parent might have said:

I know you’re angry darling but we don’t scratch and bite

How do your customers, clients, patients know how to complain? How did you learn to respond? Who models that behaviour for you? What is the approach to giving or receiving negative feedback where you work?

Picture by Paco Trinidad Photo

Will you be able to do this in ten years time?

As I trudged through the wards at 2am my body screamed its disapproval at being dragged out of bed in the small hours of the morning. That wasn’t for me. Is what you do today sustainable over the long haul? If not what are you doing about it? Your patients, clients or customers deserve the best. They need you to take responsibility for the decisions only you have the power to make. Either you are in or you have an exit strategy- but if you are in, then you have decided it is sustainable and you have made the call. No victim statement permissible.

Picture by Kevin Lawver

Are you curious?

In your dealings with people who seek your help- Do you ask a lot of questions? Do you make many assumptions? How is that working out for you? How do you know you already have all the information when you start to offer the advice? What do you know about the context in which they are seeking your counsel?

Picture by Scott Billings