Little changes lead to a big difference

Small changes in your communication style - a warm tone, active listening and interest in your colleagues and stakeholders can make a big difference in humanising your workplace. 

Malcolm Gladwell in Blink wrote that the risk of being sued for malpractice has very little to do with the physicians’ training and credentials or the number of mistakes they make. When malpractice lawsuits are analysed they reveal that there are cases of skilled doctors who get sued often and doctors who make mistakes but never get sued. Patients file lawsuits because they have been harmed by poor quality medical care and something else.  

That something else is how they were treated by their doctor. Patients don’t sue doctors they like. The feeling that their doctor saw them as a “whole person” was important. 

The medical researcher Wendy Levison reviewed hundreds of physician/patient conversations. She concluded that physicians who did not get sued made “orienting” comments like “First I’ll examine you, and then we will talk the problem over” or “I will leave time for your questions” which helped the patient relax and know what will happen when. She also noticed that these physicians engaged in active listening as they gently probed their patients. Interestingly the physicians who had never been sued spent only 3 minutes longer with each patient and they didn’t provide more medical information than the other doctors - the only difference was in how they talked to their patients.


Sourced from Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

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Written by

Jaya Machet

Jaya Machet is an Executive coach, Visual & Business Story Powered Communication Facilitator. She helps humanise the workplace through meaningful communication.

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