People are the heart of a medical practice. Patients, staff members, vendors – people are our reason for being.
Yet, dealing with people can be extremely frustrating.
Here are a few suggestions for reducing your frustration level when dealing with others, whether you’re a member of the front office staff, a nurse or a doctor:
Understand the goals of both parties. If you have the task of checking patients in for their appointments, one of your goals might be efficiency – get each patient checked in and away from the window quickly so that you can address the next person in line.
Patients may appreciate efficiency because they want to see the doctor as soon as possible. But, they likely also want to feel as if someone cares about them personally, not just as a chart number.
If you can balance the efficiency with a genuine display of concern, you can often reduce the frustration level for your patients, which may encourage them to be more cooperative with you.
Don’t assume everyone knows what you know. You know how to do your job. You know how the system works and what needs to happen during the interaction.
Often, the people you’re dealing with don’t know these things. When you forget this fact, or assume that others understand more than they do, you cause frustration for both parties.
When you’re giving instructions or asking questions, slow down. Often, the instructions and questions have become so familiar that you may not even hear the words you’re saying (think about the flight attendant giving the safety speech on an airplane). Avoid confusing health lingo, such as CMS and COB. The person trying to understand and follow your instructions could easily become frustrated and uncooperative, resulting in frustration for you as well.
Assume a positive intent. In most interactions, neither party is trying to be obstinate or annoying, yet you may find yourself feeling that the other person is intentionally making the interaction difficult. Once you assume a negative intent, you may become stubborn or inflexible, leading to more frustration for both parties.
If you assume each person is trying to do the best in the situation, you’ll approach the conversation differently.
For instance, if you’re asking a vendor to make special delivery arrangements, and the vendor says he can’t, you may become frustrated or argumentative.
If, however, you think from the vendor’s perspective and assume he’s trying to do the right thing within his job requirements, you may approach the discussion differently. You’ll more likely open up discussion to find ways for him to maintain the control his company requires while still allowing you to receive the product within the needed time frame. You’ll work cooperatively instead of combatively.
Take a deep breath between interactions. Your days are filled with interactions, and one difficult conversation can color the next four or five. When you’ve had a tough encounter, take a few seconds to close it off, box it up and put it away in your mind before interacting with someone else.
Be glad you have a new opportunity for a better interaction, and start fresh. It will take only a few seconds, and it will reduce your frustration level dramatically.