Fierce Conversations: How to Listen and Be Present

In this series, we’re offering communication lessons from Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott as well as targeted advice for how to apply those lessons to the day-to-day operations of your eye care practice.

We’ve already covered the first two of Scott’s seven core principles of fierce conversations. If you missed them, you can read about them here and here.

This week, we’re covering how to listen. It seems simple, but it’s really not. How often have you been in conversation with someone, and your mind is somewhere else? Probably more than you should. Here’s help:

Principle 3: Be Here

All too often, conversations consist of “talking at,” not “talking with.” Neither party is truly listening; each is just waiting for the other to stop talking so that he or she can begin. But being present with another person can make even the most ordinary conversation richer. Being present makes them feel truly seen and heard, and encourages them to be present in turn.

Scott advises her readers to “speak and listen as if each conversation is the most important one you’ll ever have with that person.” Being present takes unusual patience. Listen for the intent behind the words, not just the content in them, to let the person know they’re being heard.

Being Present at Your Eye Care Practice

Try to begin each day at your practice with a staff huddle, recommends Craig Piso, PhD, a psychologist and organizational leadership consultant who spoke at last year’s ASCRS/ASOA Annual Symposium. It’s a time to review successes and failures from the previous day, recommit yourselves to standards of service, and preview the day that’s about to start.

Listen to your staff. This shared leadership gives everyone a sense that you’re listening to their concerns and that they have a say in the operations of the practice. When your staff feels like you’re present and hearing their concerns (rather than just delivering marching orders), they’ll feel more comfortable telling you difficult but necessary truths. They’ll feel trusted and valued, like they have a stake in the success of the practice.

Happy and engaged staff translates directly to satisfied patients, and the best way to make your staff feel engaged is to make them feel heard.

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