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Why you should stress empathy and gratitude in your practice


Although times of true crisis may challenge our ability to experience and express gratitude and empathy, such difficult times also demand that we work on enhancing our capacity for doing so.

We’ve all heard about the importance of doctors and nurses having a positive “bedside manner.” We ask a lot of our healthcare practitioners to put aside the daily stress of their jobs and be fully attentive and genuinely caring to each patient.

But what’s being said among the staff—out of earshot of the patients—can negatively affect the bedside manner. Further, if dysfunctional behavior, inefficient processes, and bad relationships are allowed to fester, then a physician’s practice will continue to erode and its employees will want to leave.

Look at what’s going on in many companies across America. People are quitting their jobs in record numbers. Over four million Americans quit in August.

What’s driving this mass exodus? A lack of gratitude and empathy – whether it’s from management to staff or employee to employee. Most of the reasons people are quitting their jobs and looking elsewhere include work-life balance, compensation and benefits, company culture, career stagnancy. These are tied to not feeling properly appreciated or respected by the people they report to or work with.

Granted, the pandemic has considerably heightened the stress in doctors’ offices and healthcare facilities, showing cracks in company cultures. But although times of true crisis may challenge our ability to experience and express gratitude and empathy, such difficult times also demand that we work on enhancing our capacity for doing so. Because when we do, both the practice and the patients benefit.

Gratitude plus empathy equals brand ambassadors

Gratitude is seated at the heart of any truly great company culture, and it results in employees who live and breathe your brand. Employees who practice gratitude and its close relative empathy across personal and professional relationships will drive business growth while increasing their personal happiness. Patients know contented and engaged employees who genuinely like working together and who genuinely like helping the public when they see them. Gratitude is a currency in the sense that it accumulates when shared.

By expressing gratitude and showing empathy, leaders will show their employees respect and compassion, and in the process the workplace becomes a healthy place. Gratitude becomes the currency that helps build trust among team members.

As employers, it is our job to be transparent, share our vision and ask for input. In doing so, we build a positive and grateful culture supported by a team of internal brand ambassadors who fully acknowledge that we as an entire workforce are finding our way together. And when you have that positive force of internal brand ambassadors, then that kind of physician’s practice is one patients want patronize.

Here are three ways to make gratitude and empathy a major part of your practice’s culture:

Lose the scarcity mindset.

A crisis often encourages people to fall back on scarcity thinking, (e.g., what they don’t have), as pressures prompt some to react with fear and anxiety. What’s needed instead is an appreciation for each other that leads to people finding ways to help each other.

I cannot stress enough that a crisis is not the time to retreat to a scarcity mindset. Instead, it’s precisely the time to think of others, deepen our relationships and recognize the importance of support networks. It’s time to show renewed commitment to customers and communities as well as sensitivities to the challenges they are facing.

Think of all you can do, and for whom.

Learning to show gratitude on a wider scale starts with these questions:

  • Who has gone above and beyond to help me professionally, and why?
  • How will I show my gratitude to these people?
  • How can I give back to others?
  • How can I make a difference in the lives of those around me and in the lives of others in need?
  • Who have I taken for granted?

I believe in my heart that gratefulness is a social disposition or an attitude, and as such, it requires that we express it and exchange it with others. This is how we connect with one another in a way that lasts.

Embrace the strength of your team.

The resilience that’s honed by steady leaders and unified teams becomes stronger in times of trouble. People feeling isolated and vulnerable need to be thankful for good teammates, approach them for support and reciprocate. When times are tough, we can embrace and feel gratitude for what we still have, and we can use that strength of the team to fuel our individual and collective forward motion.

Identify the people who give you a sense of value and purpose and examine what you value most about your relationships. In times of struggle, it’s our relationships that pull us through.

About the Author
Michele Bailey is the Founder/CEO of The Blazing Group.
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