College Connection Winter 2016 - Page 2

college connection PROFESSIONALISM FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF CIVILITY: EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION right time demonstrate active listening. Clarifying questions to understand the other’s perspectives are signs of co-operative listening. So are offering your opinions and advice, but only if that is what your partner in conversation is seeking. Listen also to your inner voice tempting you to interrupt. But silence it as well — until the right moment. Good listening is purposeful work and a great measure of civility. Praise The Spring issue of College Connection provided an introduction to “The Five Fundamentals of Civility for Physicians,” a series of articles that examines the impact of incivility to a profession and strategies to foster civil behaviour. This article, written by Dr. Michael Kaufmann, focuses on the importance of demonstrating respect for others and oneself. Words are powerful. They can flay like whips. When hastily chosen and self-serving, they can hurt and discourage. On the other hand, words that are well chosen, considerate and timely can lift spirits, motivate, heal, and connect us. At its core, civil communication is courteous and respectful. I wonder why this can be forgotten during the course of veterinary training and practice? Everyday Communication We live in a time where social conventions such as rules of etiquette, dress codes and dining manners are relaxed, even disappearing. It’s possible that rules for wellmannered conversation are relaxed as well. Here are some common sense considerations for civil conversation: • Greet others warmly. • Engage in conversation genuinely. • Be inclusive. • Draw upon your respect for others, as discussed in “Fundamental #1: Respect 2 / College Connection Others and Yourself.” • Maintain your integrity. Two Kinds Of Silence Silence can help or hinder civility in communication. Active listening is the first kind of silence. If communication is sending and receiving information, then listening is as important as speaking. Not talking in key situations is the other, unhelpful, form of silence. Communication withheld when it is expected or needed, is a pernicious choice. Listening Imagine a time when you had a good conversation with a colleague. You know it was good because you came away feeling positive, buoyed up, heard. Your partner really listened. But how did you know that? Well, they probably didn’t talk that much. And they didn’t talk over you, or appear to be waiting for an opening to punch through with their own ideas. You were sure they were paying attention. They faced you and didn’t fidget. They set their phone aside. Pauses in the conversation were comfortable spaces that invited you to share more detail. And when they did speak, it was to ask a question that confirmed they were trying to understand. Or maybe they had helpful comments to offer. Planning to listen is a conscious choice and a deliberate act. Silence is your tool. Head nodding and similar gestures at the I think many veterinarians find it difficult to offer praise. We might think there is only one way to perform — to the best of our ability. We expect that from others almost as much as we do from ourselves. So why compliment someone for performing as we expect? A well-deserved compliment is a considerate act of support. Genuine praise strengthens relationships and facilitates more difficult conversations later. It is an act of civility. If it crosses your mind that someone has done a good job, then tell them so. And if someone does the same for you, graciously accept the compliment. Giving Constructive Feedback If it is a challenge to offer praise, then it’s really tough to provide feedback. When someone is under-performing, struggling, distressing others and/or behaving in an unprofessional manner, approaching them as a friend, colleague or leader is a responsible thing to do. There are many frameworks to consider to giving constructive feedback. Motivational interviewing (MI) is one. MI is a strategy that offers sound principles for effective communication with someone who is resistant to change. A motivational conversation is embedded in a collaborative and supportive relationship. Unhelpful strategies are also identified — often by the colleague. This is known as developing discrepancy. continued on next page