Reviving a Dying Art, the Old Fashioned WayJanuary 20th, 2020
In a recent discussion, a faculty member brought up the dying, or at least faltering, art of conversation and healthy debate. With so many technological advances that allow us to communicate without actually talking, I wonder if the convenience and ease of email, texts, social media, etc. actually creates misinformation and confusion.
For example, last year a division chief in one of our clinical departments received an electronic report that a faculty member was not meeting their required clinic hours. In line with past protocol, the division chief sent an email with the report, asking the faculty member to correct the situation, based on the current clinic hour expectations. In response, the faculty member asked the division chief to reconsider the expectations. The email exchange continued, looping in additional people at various leadership levels, until it finally landed in my inbox. After looking into it, and asking for a brief meeting with key stakeholders, the issue was resolved very quickly. The faculty member wanted different, not fewer clinic hours.
Adjusting the schedule easily solved the problem. Instead of multiple emails, involving many leaders, and a formal meeting, an initial conversation between the division chief and faculty member would have likely fixed the problem.
Reporting systems and protocols are absolutely necessary. We gather very valuable data from our productivity dashboards, compliance hotline, and quality metrics, just to name a few. These are great tools, but they cannot replace the human connection that helps us really understand a problem or concern, and allows us to relate to how a colleague is thinking or feeling. More importantly, taking the time and effort to have a personal conversation, although it may be awkward or difficult, helps us engage and empower our team members, while improving our work climate.
My hope is that with the help of our ongoing high reliability training, which encourages us to speak up, we will learn how to respectfully engage each other in those crucial conversations that shape our culture. I encourage you, despite all of the technology at our fingertips, to remember and use the old school practice of inviting a colleague to chat over a cup of coffee.
What do you think? How does high technology help or hinder your connection with others? I invite you to share your thoughts in the comment section below.