Collaborating with kindness

Feb. 3, 2017 / By Cheryl Manchenton, RN

As you all know, I am a fairly opinionated blogger.  As a person who takes pride in what I do, I certainly can become easily defensive when someone challenges my opinion or knowledge and I struggle with this trait every day. It is something I know I share with others in the healthcare industry and certainly in consulting.  Many of us entered the healthcare arena as a vocational choice; meaning, we entered the field to help others and care for the most vulnerable members of our population.  The healthcare industry also attracts many people that are high-performers (with a touch of compulsiveness) to perform “perfectly” and be the best at what they do.  This is a good news/bad news scenario.  On the one hand, we strive to perform at optimal quality and efficiency. On the other hand, many times we may be critical of the performance of others and be defensive when our knowledge, ability, etc. is being challenged or questioned. But in our efforts, can we at least be kind?

When it comes to quality outcomes, the stakes are even higher. The ripple effect of an incorrect code or POA status on the reputation and financial outcome of an institution ensures that more individuals and departments are being held to quality outcomes. That makes for more passionate staff with deeper opinions and stronger commitment to opinions.

But striving for accuracy requires collaboration.  It is all too easy to speak in absolutes: “Our quality outcomes performance is due to bad coding” or “The Quality team wants to just manipulate the data.”  Thinking and speaking in extremes may have two (at minimum) consequences (hopefully unintended):  automatic distrust and damage to collaborative efforts, and stalled or slowed improvement on quality outcomes. 

In light of the unsettled times we live in with polarizing statements made by many, let us in the healthcare industry speak to and engage each other with one small (or large thing): kindness.  In collaborating with other departments, let’s not focus on being “right” or “winning.” lnstead, I ask us to be respectful and KIND. 

I leave you with two quotes:

“Kindness is the greatest wisdom.” Author unknown.

“The most beautiful thing a human being can do is help another human being. Kindness doesn’t cost a thing.” Claudia Olivares, Gata salvaje (2002)

Cheryl Manchenton is a senior inpatient consultant and project manager for 3M Health Information Systems.