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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 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

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

Are you sure they can help?

One of the key roles in healthcare is to refer people to other sources of help. The list of therapists, specialists and clinics is as long as any phone directory. However off loading someone elsewhere is hardly worthwhile if it’s a waste of time and money.

The goal should always be the initiation of a discussion about a patient’s needs and the beginning of a triaging process to address these, rather than problem identification being an end‐goal itself. Gemma Skaczkowski

Picture by nicdalic

Did this person need those pills?

No matter what business you are in you might ask yourself if whatever you just sold to your customer is what they really needed. If you are a doctor that question cuts deeper- did you really identify  that person’s problem or did your prescription just get them out the door?

Inappropriate prescriptions are known to pose health risks for older adults, leading to unnecessary hospitalisations and undue cost. Budnitz et al

Picture by Brent Matthew Lillard

What do you do that you could stop?

We often do things out of habit rather than for a good reason. As healthcare professionals that might be poor. Ordering tests because it’s something we always do ‘ in these circumstances’ might lead to  problems- specifically false positive and false negative results. When that happens it doesn’t just buy time while we think of a diagnosis it also potentially creates a false diagnosis. What if you were a doctor and were held to account for every false diagnosis you made?

Picture by Jessica Quinn

Are you credible as a lifestyle coach?

The commonest conditions doctors encounter are illnesses directly related to poor life style choices. Diseases that arise because we eat too much and don’t take enough exercise.

People who seek healthcare advice will be told more often than not that they must make different choices. How credible is your advice as a doctor? How persuasive are you as the messenger? How could you do this better?

Picture by Cocoabiscuit ,