“Being a Doctor. It’s all Talk. Well, so’s being a Manager!”

‘Talk isn’t Cheap!’

When I was practicing medicine I spent 90% of my time, if not more, talking.

Talking to patients. Talking to nurses. Talking to the lab. Talking to other doctors, other hospitals, admin and even on the odd occasion to managers.

You could not possibly do your job if you’re not talking. It didn’t matter how good your grades were at med school or how many weird sounding diseases and syndromes you knew. If you couldn’t communicate effectively you were done for.

You were useless. The thing is being able to communicate effectively isn’t unique to medicine. Remembering to talk and listen is essential for most jobs especially in a complex system where everyone is rushing around trying to get their priorities in order.

So lets’ take a second to go over some of the different ways that effective communication can help you whether you’re a doctor, nurse, manager or executive.

1. ‘Excuse me. Who are you?’

Know who you’re talking to. It’s absolutely essential to recognise the people involved in any system. Taking the time to get know the people in your department, system or organisation helps you on several levels:

  • Making an effort, is polite and builds rapport
  • We all have agendas and objectives, identifying them allows us to understand and continue building rapport
  • Knowing what everyone does lets you know who can help you
  • Knowing the structure let’s you know what the internal hierarchy is

2. ‘Listen Up!’

As much as I love talking one of the most important skills to learn is the art of listening. Whether you’re starting a new project or you’re trying to assess the state of play you need to learn to listen.

If you show you’re capable of listening then people will talk to you. I cannot emphasise how useful this skill is. For one, it builds rapport and that’s the most valuable currency any consultant, manager or healthcare professional can have.

Beyond that listening allows you to build effective strategies and plans. As skilled as you are, you only have one mind. Listening to everyone will reveal both problems AND solutions you probably have never considered. It will reveal the reasons for internal conflicts and provide you with the hidden answers to problems you previously would not have had access to.

3. ‘Communication is Precision of Thought’

At one time or another we all have suggestions, ideas and plans we want to get across.

We have thoughts. We’re not all born orators but the more we talk and present we learn to translate our ideas into simple, clear and accessible messages. Whether you’re a born number cruncher or you’re a great physician being able to communicate your ideas concisely and to people of all backgrounds will lead to ACTION.

4. ‘Rapport is Everything.’

That’s why we talk. On so many levels as human beings talking builds relationships. We learn about each other, our priorities and our motivations. The bonds we form allow us to work together and become more effective units. If you are a leader you need to be connected with your team otherwise you’ll never execute your plans effectively and your team won’t feel the need to give you honest feedback.

If you’re in a team whether its’ in the backroom or on the front-lines having rapport allows you to get through the most difficult situations but also gives you the confidence to suggest plans and ideas which will improve productivity and efficacy.

And if you’re a management consultant or such like, well, if no-one trusts you or feels like you understand them then don’t expect your plans and solutions to be taken seriously. You become impotent.

Being a leader, innovator, advisor or pioneer can’t be done alone. You will always rely on others and having effective relationships are essential.

Communication is the key to these relationships.

In the immortal words of Bob Hoskins,”It’s good to talk.”


Dr Saif Abed
Founding Partner
AbedGraham Healthcare Strategies Ltd

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