Using disparate examples of football, transportation, and security, this Forbes article delves into the power that Connection has on the road to innovation. Connecting unexpected elements of our industries (e.g. Uber’s Connection of smartphones to freelance drivers) paves the way for brand new opportunities to build trust and loyalty with customers. Connection is a powerful leadership tool – leaders must serve as the vision between point B and point L even though our gut instinct is not to connect the two. Through Connecting seemingly unlike dots, we find new purpose and new solutions.
Success of innovative Connections depends solely on a new form of currency in today’s economy: trust. This TED Talk by Oxford University’s Rachel Botsman explores how the world’s most successful companies not only have built customer trust but truly depend on trust from a financial perspective. Take Airbnb–the company would be nothing if they weren’t able to foster a sense of worldwide trust between strangers (the host and the guest) through their platform.
|How can we actively foster a sense of trust, not only for our patients but also for our providers, team members, and guests?|
In today’s fast-paced, multi-tasking world, active listening seems to be at an all-time low. According to this Forbes article, “even when we think we are listening, we usually only have about 50% of our brain tuned in.” We might be thinking about our next conversation or an email to respond to, and this lack of attentive listening is affecting our ability to Connect with the information we’re receiving and with the people in the room.
To be more present, what if we took a few minutes before an important conversation or meeting to craft a listening plan? This process of thinking about our goals and aim for each conversation will give our listening “intention, structure and purpose.”
This piece reminds us that “hearing is mechanical, and listening is intentional. Listening means gaining awareness about the language, beliefs, assumptions and perceptions of others.” By using our natural curiosity and creating a listening plan, we are making an effort to be more purposeful in the way we listen and Connect, and will ultimately build a strong relationship.
Relying on technology to build Connections is not a surefire win. We know that while humans are hardwired to connect, technology designed to foster those Connections has, paradoxically, created a disconnect among us. Connection must be built in a nuanced way, because relying too much on the creative connective properties of the tech world separates us from our most innate human Connection to each other. It might not be easy to find a happy medium, but when we hit the right compromise of using technology to actually enhance in-person, human Connections…it works.
In health care, we are often conditioned to be emotionally detached–the pace, complexity, and stress can otherwise be overwhelming. Yet, in this Greater Good podcast, Dr. Leif Hass shares his practice for Connection–finding time to see and care deeply for his patients and colleagues each day. This practice not only benefits his patients, but Dr. Hass as well. When he visits a patient, Dr. Hass acknowledges the suffering they are feeling rather than simply focusing on the pain scale of one to 10. By asking about suffering, he is taking both the physical and emotional pain into consideration. Dr Hass has learned that with a thoughtful pause, deep breath, and time to acknowledge someone’s distress, compassionate care is easier to deliver. And he invites the whole team into this approach, beginning with gratitude for the teams’ commitment and effort first, then encouraging them to care for others in this unique yet simple way.
Dr. Hass goes on to share his “Feeling Connected” practice where he tunes into powerful moments of Connection. He spends time reflecting on one person and on a time he felt a true bond with this person. Dr Hass considers how the Experience felt, what made it memorable, and then he writes about it. Writing it down helps solidify the memory and makes it really stick. Studies show this practice of writing about our bonding Experiences also helps to make us kinder to others.
We love discovering and celebrating the extraordinary health care heroes who have an innate gift of being a Connector for and between others. At Cincinnati Children’s, KJ Upshaw a floor tech, noticed that two boys in treatment isolation were both passionate about LEGOs. As he watched each of the boys build and had conversations with them, he innately knew they would love sharing with each other. And he could be the bridge.
Each day, KJ joyfully shared messages and photos of progress between the two boys as they built in their separate rooms. This brief moment brightened each child’s day. It was a simple and meaningful gesture, above and beyond what was expected of Upshaw, yet an important reminder that every person who enters a patient room is part of the healing journey. The boys were able to meet face to face before leaving and plans for future playdates are underway.
Associate Chief Experience Officer at UC San Diego Health
The Experience Lab (TEL): What does the principle of Connection mean to you and your organization?
Lesley Wilson (LW): Connecting is one of our four foundational Experience Intentions at UC San Diego Health. We use the notion of Connecting as ‘being a bridge’ in our theme and declaration. When we explain and explore this concept with our teams, it’s not only about human Connections with one another, but it’s also about how we show up and Connect with our patients and guests – as well as Connecting to the purpose of the work we are doing. And it always includes empathy and hospitality throughout. Hospitality lives in Connecting.
TEL: How do you apply the principle?
We create actionable and tangible ways to bring Connecting to life throughout our organization. From finding new ways to Connect during rounding, to revisiting our communication framework, to exploring how to best Connect through our email communications — we seek to create bridges. We also focus on “Big E Experience;” everyone’s Experience matters, and we have created “Joy Events” within our Connecting Intention that encourage our team members to interact with one another in thoughtful, creative ways.
We have also created a forum for monthly Experience leadership sessions where we invite leaders to come together in person, despite all the latest technologies available, because we are committed to the human interaction. We value seeing each other and having face-to-face conversations. We focus on topics such as hospitality, partnership, and fostering trust — and we practice techniques like the improv tool ‘Yes, And…’ all with the aim to create a shared understanding. Because once we have a shared understanding, we can bridge to what’s possible.
TEL: What advice do you have for other Lab Partners?
LW: We are still so early in this journey. I think we are very often eager for the next tools or tactics, and yet what we really need is teaching, sharing, and discovering WHY this work is so important. You can ask someone to be a Connector, but it has to tap into a deep human level, that raw emotion and feeling, to make a Connection. Rather than train, let’s aim to inspire people to want to make that Connection — to want to look up and smile — and take the opportunity to be the bridge for others.
Can a doctor heal patients just by talking with them? Sounds a little bit dubious, but not so far-fetched when you consider the power of conversation and Connection. In this provocative NY Times article, author Danielle Ofri explores the important role of conversation in the patient-physician relationship and argues that words can create a placebo effect. Connection that takes place when conversation leads the way is more powerful than we know. In fact, face-to-face conversation encourages one of the most important Connections in our industry: the healing Connection. A few years back, Canadian researchers found that the mere act of having understanding and encouraging communication with patients decreased their pain by 55%. The “conversation placebo” relieves suffering and expedites recovery.
This literal application of the conversation placebo can be applied in more environments than just the patient room. When we use Intentional, fully present conversations as a tool to Connect with our team members, their anxieties and concerns are alleviated.