By Lisa Yauch-Cadden
As someone who grew up in Motown, I know a little bit about Aretha Franklin and her mantra. As a clinician who has been around awhile, I know a lot about why it is so important.
In our business, we deal with all kinds of people: patients, families, physicians, nurses, therapists, case managers, social workers, insurance representatives, students, etc. Like any business that involves personal interaction, everyone has a perspective, an agenda, a point of view. In our role as a diagnostician/therapist, we may need to bring all of these perspectives together, and if we can’t bring them all together, we certainly need to appreciate them. Every person that works with/interacts with our patient has a perspective about that patient, and those perspectives may be important to us. When I evaluate a patient, I always try to ask them what they think the nature of their problem is. I also ask their family members: “What problems do you see?” “Why do you think they are occurring?” I canvas the nurses and the CNAs. I consult with the physician. I ask the treating clinician (CFY, SLP-A) who may be working with them. All of these people invariably know the patient better than I do and their insights are important to me and to the patient. When I come to a conclusion, I let patients/families know, “Here’s what I think”. I seek confirmation, when I can, (e.g., “Does this make sense with what you see at home?”). It provides for a better recommendation, usually leading to one the patient can live with (think: modified diet/thickened liquids).
I also have used this approach as a manager and find that staff generally do a better job when you treat them with respect. I know, novel concept. Having worked for managers that don’t share this philosophy, however, makes me think that this is may not be an intuitive strategy for some people. The concept, however, is simple. People have their own opinions and perspective, as do you, and like you, people think that they are right. As a manager, you need to appreciate that, and sometimes solicit that perspective, in order to come to a shared conclusion. Like you, people need to be validated. Once you let them know that their perspective has value, they are much more likely to hear your side of the story. And when that side doesn’t necessarily agree with theirs, or doesn’t give them what they want, you are less likely to have problems afterward, as long as you’ve told them the truth.
And that’s the second part of the equation: Tell the truth. Respect the person you are dealing with enough to let them know the truth. If they know you are being truthful, even if they don’t like what they are hearing, they are more likely to accept it. Isn’t that how you would like to be treated? Imagine what a world it would be if everyone acted this way.
About the author
Lisa Yauch-Cadden was born and raised in the Detroit, Michigan area. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Master’s in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Michigan. She has worked as an SLP in nearly all facets of the field: skilled nursing facilities, home care, acute care, transitional care, medical offices and schools. Throughout her career as a therapist, manager and business owner, Lisa has never strayed from providing direct line service, including state of the art evaluations using FEES/FEESST and MBS. While she needs no accolades to do her job, she is deserving of many. Her tireless efforts to advance the best clinical practices in Speech Language Pathology have changed lives for her patients, her clinical fellows, and those of us lucky enough to work with her on a regular basis. Contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org. .
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