“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to encourage, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” —Yehuda Berg
Each and every day, we have an opportunity to affect the lives of others. And, as reflected in the quote above, our words are powerful tools to determine if our impact is a positive one.
Our ability to effectively and courteously communicate is the foundation upon which we build relationships with others. Through our words and behaviors, we can create trust, confidence, and mutual respect with our patients, their families, and our coworkers.
Being mindful of our communication style reminds us of the importance of our verbal and nonverbal communications. Through thoughtful, respectful word choice and open body language, we show our patients, their families, and our coworkers that we care about them.
Take a moment to think about those you serve:
Patients and their families: Our politeness puts patients and their loved ones at ease, instills trust and confidence in us, and lets them know that we will care for them as if they were our own family members. Responding to their needs in a thoughtful manner reflects sincere and genuine courtesy. Remaining courteous under pressure further assures patients that we will go above and beyond to respond to their needs and to provide high-quality and safe patient care.
Coworkers: The qualities and behaviors of courteous communication are key components in creating the best place to work: a place that is kind, respectful, and courteous. It is up to each of us to demonstrate courtesy and respect to coworkers, regardless of role, rank, or reputation. By communicating with courtesy and treating each other respectfully at all times, we will create a culture that abounds with mutual respect and teamwork.
What does a courteous communication style look like? The eight tips below will help you exhibit a verbal and non-verbal message that conveys care, concern, and compassion:
- Say good morning or good afternoon;
- Make friendly eye contact;
- Offer a sincere smile;
- Exhibit open and welcoming body language;
- Use preferred names;
- Approach others from a place of kindness, empathy, and curiosity;
- Be polite and willing to listen; and
- Show courtesy, promptness, and attentiveness in all communications.
By approaching each and every interaction with a mindset of courteous communication, we will each do our part to bring a great experience to life for our patients, their families, and each other.
Kari Cornicelli is vice president and CFO for Sharp Metropolitan Medical Campus in San Diego and is past chair of the national board of directors for HFMA.