Mar 20, 2007

Dealing with emotional people

I am reading If Disney Ran Your Hospital by Fred Lee. It is a wonderful book. I am surprised. I am surprised that such a great book on health care management exists and so many hospitals and medical offices seem to not use these simple, common sense ideas. I am surprised to see people criticising the book so harsh: that's exactly what we need, another health care administrator teaching us how to do our job or how can you compare Disney with a hospital. I think the book successfully demonstrates that health care (and actually any domain that deals with people) can use some of the techniques that Disney is using.

I guess I'm learning one more time that in health care just like in any other field some people will just not get it. And I am sure there are other great books out there that deal with all these issues.

I was amazed to understand why I loved the hospital where I had my first baby and loss, and wasn't impressed by the one where I got home healthy and with a healthy happy baby. The outcome doesn't matter, the people and empathy and caring does. I thought it was more a matter of people cutting us some slack because we were having a loss, vs. being the whiny, healthy woman in labor that is anxious and crazy. You would think that a good outcome should cause a good impression, and a bad outcome would cause anger and need to revenge... not necessarily.

I was happy to also find a useful idea on understanding my anxiety. The author was discussing how when dealing with an angry person, it is important to imagine what the person goes through and empathize with them rather than rationally demonstrating that they have no reason to be angry. This is so right...

I am very proud of being logical and using reason to resolve problems. It is tough on me to realize that when I am anxious and emotional I seem to lose this. Things that seem unresolvable now might seem clear in an hour if my anxiety subsides. I can convince myself how that person did something completely wrong and an hour later just realize that it was just an opinion. So when I talk to someone and I am all emotional and their rational response demonstrates that I am wrong, I feel very bad. I hate myself and get into a spiral of anxiety. If the other person understands that I am emotional and knows that I wouldn't say that under normal circumstances, if the other person lets me know that they get it and I am OK, I feel good, my anxiety dissipates and I can see the world for what it is.

I think that is a lesson for me too: do not argue with people that are obviously emotional, just try to understand where they come from and let them know that you do.

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