It starts with that first interaction. It’s early, your day is just beginning. You walk into work and see a stranger: a patient, a family member, or someone in scrubs. At this point, it doesn’t really matter who it is– what matters is how you choose to engage. Do you make eye contact? Smile? Even-gasp!-say Good morning?
I spoke with a colleague the other day about the concept that patient experience is really an overflow of our own experience as employees, and that the same behaviors we want to exhibit to every person we serve has to start with how we interact with one another.
He shared a story with me of a woman who was waiting for her husband’s surgery to start. She also happened to be a nurse. As such, she had an extra critical eye on everything that was going on around her and her husband as they waited to take him back. She was so impressed with the way the team members interacted not only with patients but also with each other that she quit where she was working to come work with that team.
It’s a powerful story of the ripple effects of a culture that values people, unbiased of their labels as patients or employees or leaders or any other label we smack on top of ourselves. A culture where staff and leaders care for each other as the backbone to everything else they do.
What does this type of care for each other look like in action? So much of what I teach on how to make a great patient experience translates over into how we make a great experience for each other every day. Things like:
- Greeting each other (“Good morning!”)
- Getting to know colleagues on a level outside of work (“How’s your family doing?”)
- Listening well to understand (Not interrupting, asking clarifying questions)
- Being willing to help (“What does your day look like? Is there anything I can help take off your plate?”)
- Showing appreciation for each other as human beings, not just when things are going well (“You are such a valuable part of our team! Thank you for your willingness to step in and help!”)
Whether we realize it or not, the way we interact with each other will rub off on our patients, either in a positive way, like it did for the nurse in the story above, or negatively, depending on our own interactions as colleagues and coworkers.
What about you? Have you experienced your work be impacted, positively or negatively, by the relationships and interactions you have with your colleagues? My call to action is to go out of your way today to care for a coworker. The ripple effect will be more far reaching than you will ever know.