Beat Down Burnout

3 Steps for Physicians to Improve Communication with Their Staff

Have you ever gotten notified that you spoke inappropriately to a nurse, and you weren’t even aware that you did? The notification can be an email or phone call from Admin or being pulled aside by a Department Head. It doesn’t matter. All you know it that there was an emergency, things were happening quickly, and somebody got their feelings hurt. Now, you’re in the hot seat. Again. Am I right?


Someone said you raised your voice. Really? You were just trying to be heard over the chaos. Someone else said you were curt. Your voice was clipped to be efficient. It was the logical thing to do. You were delivering just the information that was needed so that you could manage the situation. Now, people are offended, and feelings are hurt.


You aren’t alone. This happens several times a day, in most hospitals across the country. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t find a way to minimize such occurrences. I have three steps for that.


1. Grab your code here. Chances are, you’re high in K, the Knowledge type. People who are high K tend to believe that when emotions go high, intelligence goes low. They keep a tight rein on their emotions, even in an emergency. A raised or clipped voice isn’t going to affect them.


2. Code your colleagues – or at least keep in mind that they may not be your code. Nursing staff tend to be high in the Nurturing type, which is more emotional.


3. Take every opportunity to get training in soft skills, like emotional and spiritual intelligence.  Soft skills are skills. Like other skills, they can be learned. Set up a system and a process to accomplish this goal. Soft skills training is key. This will help you not only understand your own emotions and the responses to them, but also your responses to the emotions of your coworkers. Look for courses that focus on understanding and learning, not managing and controlling. This avoids manipulating others into doing things they don’t want.



With the right tools, training, and data, you can improve your communication skills with your colleagues and your staff. This will keep you out of the line of fire and increase your efficiency. If you continue the training, these skills can help you become a true leader.  


Try this and let me know how it works for you. I’m Nan Nuessle, MD, and I’m here to help.

Nanette Nuessle