Alan Moretti, Healthcare Technology Management Advisor
Of all the things we do as HTM professionals, talking is among the most visible and certainly among the most influential. Think about it. You don’t add your greatest value by virtue of your skill in navigating software, troubleshooting an equipment service event or turning wrenches. You add your greatest value by interacting with your HTM colleagues, clinical users (i.e. your customers!) and all the others you come in contact with primarily by communication either verbally or via written methods such as email, texting, social media and all the other new day technologies.
It’s amazing how many books have been written on the subject of communicating. While most of them contribute to the discussion, their essence can be summed up simply as “We are most effective when we speak verbally so other people will listen and when we listen so other people can talk.” Because it requires honesty and clarity; true dialogue can sometimes be uncomfortable. And because people like to avoid discomfort, it’s tempting to allow some topics to remain unaddressed – sort of like leaving a splinter in your finger even though logic tells you the temporary pain of digging it out is not nearly as bad as the likely infection from leaving it in.
All of us have been in situations where there’s a relevant issue that nobody seems willing to talk about. How many times have you thought: “There’s an elephant in this room, and I sure wish someone would deal with it – just not me.” OK, to domesticate and tame this elephant – the “undiscussable” – one must first acknowledge its existence and the positive and negative impact that it brings. A natural consequence of “undiscussables” is that fresh viewpoints can get deflected or pushed aside. These hurdles can seem unsurmountable by those wanting to ignore the “elephant in the room” so as not to be ostracized by the individuals who are afraid of dealing with the clear issue(s) that exist. That’s contrary to the whole purpose of an “open and free to express” dialogue environment. It is truly a dangerous position for any organization interested in promoting and empowering staff and service excellence values.
HTM professionals need to recognize and understand the difference between “implicit and explicit” communication. The “elephant,” an undiscussable subject is “implicit” and framed around it being undeclared – denial if you will. People talk about the “elephant” without acknowledging that it’s in the room and affecting everything that’s going on. It is when the elephant’s presence is made explicit – recognizable and obvious that true dialogue comes out in order to “tame this animal.”
As HTM professionals, we need to seek out the “elephants in the room.” Yes, in this effort there may be hesitation in speaking up to avoid being ostracized or being viewed as “not a team player.” An individual’s private apprehension at being regarded as different can be a challenging pathway for many – let your ethical conscience guide you and I wish you safe travels!
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