Nipping it in the bud

Over the weekend I attended a terrific workshop on EFT, the “tapping technique” that has helped millions of people decrease pain and anxiety, change negative thought patterns, get over traumas, etc. In the beginning of the workshop, one attendee announced to all of us that she had “written 86 books” about EFT. It made me wonder why she had signed up for an introductory workshop. As the days progressed, it became clear that she was undermining the presenter and attempting to “teach” her own approach to EFT. The skillful presenter directly and professionally addressed the situation and we were all able to continue to acquire the technique we had come to learn. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for the presenter to step up and confront this person. Fortunately, her commitment to her field, and to each of us who had paid for the program, was greater than her fear or discomfort.

Many years ago, in my own private practice, I tolerated employees who were unsuitable for our group. For some, their attitude created conflict within the office. For others, their competence was subpar. I used all of the communication skills I knew – and then I used them again. Just like Einstein would have warned, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” While I’m not sure I would characterize myself as insane, I clearly was ineffective.

Fortunately, there are many communication strategies that are extremely effective in confronting poor behavior in the home and workplace.

One such strategy, as suggested by Pamela Jett of Words Matter, is to use the BCA template.
Behavior – state the behavior you have noticed
Correction/consequence – explain the correction you want them to make and the consequence of their doing it right
Attitude – check their attitude by asking a yes or no question: “Can I count on you to do this?” This allows the person to immediately get on board with what you’re asking of them, or to explain why they might not be able to make the change.

For example:
Behavior: I’ve noticed that you’ve come in late several times this week.
Correction: We begin seeing patients at 8, so you need to arrive by 7:45.
Attitude: Can I count on you to be here every day by 7:45?

What if the person gives you a reason why they can’t comply?

If it’s a reasonable situation that is limiting their behavior, brainstorm with them to find other solutions. If you feel it’s just an excuse, respond with: “I understand that this is the situation. That being said, it’s still important that….” Again state what correction is needed and ask for their agreement.

The wealth of strategies for more effective communication continues to amaze and excite me as I realize that none of us needs to be held hostage to or accept bad behavior in our practices. We can simply follow this (or another) easy formula and courageously step up to our difficult conversations. When we keep in mind our underlying commitment – to our patients, our employees, and ourselves – we can use that commitment to spur us on past our fears. Then we can get ready to enjoy the benefits of a workplace that runs more smoothly, with greater productivity and more harmony among all who work there.

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About Helane Fronek

Over the past 28 years I have had a fascinating and fulfilling career in medicine, initially practicing as a general internist and then as a procedural specialist, caring for patients with vein disorders. As Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC- San Diego School of Medicine, I’m thrilled to be teaching medical students crucial communication skills along with many other aspects involved in the practice of medicine.
This entry was posted in building relationship with patients, honesty in medical care, physician coach, physician coaching, physician communication, physician fulfillment, physician work life balance and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Nipping it in the bud

  1. Harman says:

    Very interesting technique and perspective! Its a very applicable approach!

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