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Communication can be key — but what system works?
By Stephen W. Earnhart, MS
Earnhart & Associates
Looking back into 2008, I noticed that a few things worked well, considering what a miserable year it was. However, many other things did not. I found there to be some consistency in the stuff that worked and the stuff that didn't, with the common ground being communication.
There are some things I know hands down, and there are other things I don't know squat about but can bluff my way if need be. It seemed that the things that worked well were in the area of which I consider myself more knowledgeable. Conversely . . .
I decided to test my assumption. I called the administrator at the center where things went exceedingly well and asked him a simple question, "Did I communicate to you exactly what you needed to carry out my request? Was there any gray area whatsoever?" His answer was a resounding "No. I knew exactly what you wanted."
Sooo . . . . I called the other administrator clear across the country, one of the ones where things did not go as I expected, and I asked the exact same question. Her reply was, "Not really. I didn't understand exactly what you wanted, so I had to sort of fill in the blanks with my interpretation."
Apparently, most of the world cannot read minds, which is unfortunate and ultimately time-consuming for those of us who need to communicate. I have struggled to find some computer software that can do all this for me without effort, but what I did find that works is decades old: who, what, when, where, and why. It works! For example, "Mary (who) is going to schedule cases (what) on days when the Sally (the regular scheduler) is off (when) or not at the surgery center (where) so we can keep consistency with the surgeon's offices (why)." It is so easy!
I know it sounds hokey and low tech and probably somewhat silly, but when you are communicating with anyone, just mentally run through that list. I have learned that leaving out any "W" kills the whole process.
Try this method for yourself. See if it makes a difference and let me know. This would be helpful information for me. Thanks, and have a great year! (Earnhart & Associates is an ambulatory surgery consulting firm specializing in all aspects of outpatient surgery development and management. Contact Earnhart at 13492 Research Blvd., Suite 120-258, Austin, TX 78750-2254.) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: www.earnhart.com.)