Speak Up

By Emily Blaska

Being a person that is willing to speak up takes courage, especially when interacting with a superior. Are you willing to speak up or are you overshadowed by an overbearing egomaniac? Or, are you a supervisor or an authority figure that makes subordinates feel afraid to speak up? Does your boss want to hear what you have to say? Has it ever happened that you had a great idea, an idea that could make your company money, or in the medical field, save a life, and you decided to stay silent overcome by fear not wanting to be shot down? Your opinion can make a difference, if you just speak up.

In the hospital setting, what someone says could mean the difference between life or death. There is a longstanding, ongoing problem in communication in any environment where people are afraid to speak up. Perhaps it is a lack of experience or confidence that holds one back or perhaps it’s the culture created by management that is clueless. Whatever the reason, when conflicting personalities, egos and a lack of communication skills are the norm, you most likely will end up with a disaster.

A great example of thisrelationship existsin the hospital setting between doctors and other staff such as nurses, techs and other physicians. Some doctors have well known reputations of being difficult and ego-centric. How effective the communication is between the care givers will set up the team for failure, success, life or death.

From personal experience, I once worked with a doctor that was well known for being rude, disrespectful and demeaning towards nurses. Day after day the staff endured this negative behavior. He was consistently disrespectful and belittling towards staff and to make matters worse, he did it in front of colleges and other physicians. Imagine a new nurse, who’s first year working out of school worked in this environment. Or a new employee working for a boss like that. There is absolutely nothing about this communications style that is productive. Anyone working with this type of leader would become apprehensive about asking questions; they would work in fear of feeling stupid or simply would not want to interact with this doctor, even if it meant better patient care. Leaders like this have no business being leaders.

I have seen the same situation far too often. A nurse is at the bedside of a patient for 12 hours, all day similar to savvy employees in a business who know their repeat customers. A doctor who comes in withoutfully understanding the fine details of the day, may come in with orders that are not the most sensible. However, with this doctor’s reputation, a new nurse may be apprehensive in confronting him because of fear of being belittled. Or an intuition says that the unfamiliar medication ordered might be the wrong dose. But doctors know best, right? Not always. The end result in the hospital setting could cost a patient’s life. Just as in business, it may jeopardize a big account or the next big sale. Employees, no matter what businessthey are in, must feel comfortable to speak up to their superiors without the fear that they will be belittled. There should be open lines of communication and a willingness to accept that someone else may have a better answer, solution or a simple idea. This open line of communication should precipitate from the top down, encouraging creativity and best practices for the customer or patient.

Big egos stifle communication and force employees to be reserved, defensive, unproductive. There is not a school anywhere that teaches this philosophy. It is a phenomenon that is the biproduct of a superiority complex. It’s an ego out of control that does absolutely zero for the patient or in a business, the customer.

If you are a leader that doesn’t allow your subordinates to speak up, leave your ego at home. If you are an employee that is afraid to speak up, be assertive and speak up.

More publications by Emily Blaska

By Emily Blaska - Medical Consultant
Being a person that is willing to speak up takes courage, especially when interacting with a superior. Are you willing to speak up or are you overshadowed by an overbearing egomaniac? Or, are you a supervisor or an authority figure that makes subordinates feel afraid to speak up?...

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