Ground Rules

It is so interesting to me that I believe I’m pretty good at communicating and then I find myself “slap dab in the middle” of a communication breakdown that blows me right out of the water. My internal dialogue starts, “What just happened? Was I alone in the room? I thought we were on the same page, we weren’t even in the same book!” And on and on it goes, with me beating myself up, making the other person wrong, and wasting my time and precious energy because I THOUGHT I was good at communicating!

What are the ground rules for communication? What do you do when the other person doesn’t have the same rule book? I was reminded AGAIN at a recent check up with my “health care” team member.

Here is what I see as the “issue”. She is anxious. I am anxious. She is scattered, me too. I don’t know what her agenda is, I can only guess it’s to get me out of the room in 12 minutes without too much whining and complaining. MY agenda is to be not just heard, but listened to, acknowledged, and satisfied with information. Was I clear about that? Heck NO!

This is what I’ll do next month.

  • Have my list ready and well written
  • Ask her how much time she has designated for our appointment
  • Have her do my vitals and discuss lab work first
  • Ask her to let me know when she is complete
  • Share my agenda with her, what I expect from our visit
  • Ask her to not interrupt me until I complete my thought or question and then reflect what she thinks she heard me ask or say before she speaks
  • Not leave until I am satisfied and have all my questions have been answered and requests fulfilled

That feels pretty good. What do you think? What do you do when you are not satisfied with communication with health care providers? I would love your feedback and suggestions — please post your comment on my blog!

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3 Responses to Ground Rules

  1. Debora Bradley says:

    I have been where you are at; frustrated, not heard and given the 1, 2, 3– move me in and move me out so she or he could meet his next appt. scheduled. Today’s appts. are double booked and patients are not given any space for open communication.

    The list you offered for next month’s appointment sounds complete. In this time of frustration, it is good to journal (as you did) and ask yourself what you need to know to be complete. What can you learn from this appointment that will assist you for your next meeting.

    I know it is important to “raise our hand” and ask for what we need and/or express to them authentically how you are feeling. One does not want a wall to go up and feel uncomfortable in their presence. I recall feeling that I was part of an assembly line work day when I met with one caretaker. I went home and discussed it with my husband that I did not feel heard or truly visible on that given afternoon at my appointment. He asked me how much longer did I want that to go on? What could I do to change that? When I went back two weeks later, I expressed my sincere feelings and we opened up some great dialogue. After that visit, the receptionist said the attending care-taker had a meeting with the scheduling staff to allow 4 patients to be seen each hour down from the 6 to 8 they were originally fitting in. I do believe that if I was not heard at that next visit, I probably would have began to seek a new internist. I also believe that they gained respect from me based on the fact that I asked for what I needed from a kind heart.

    We learn from everything and this was yet, another learning experience. Your blog can help others to make sure they go into their appointment with a list of questions and check them off as they are answered. Hang in there ;keep smiling your brilliant smile from the inside out.

  2. Karen Lanser says:

    Love this Cate … a problem, a solution and a conversation so others can benefit! Your excellent coaching skills are shining through! Luv Karen

  3. Kalyn says:

    I would write a letter expressing my thoughts, observations and concerns. It’s easy for one to tune out or be distracted when a person is speaking to you – so many are on auto pilot these days and not present. Reading a letter, written from Truth and expressed sincerely may have a better chance of getting through. – If the face to face approach doesn’t prove to be effective. With love,

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