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a blog by Chris Barrow

Listen and connect with people, don't perform for them

The title of today's post is an extract from this morning's reading of The Daily Stoic.

A timely reminder that yesterday I was "performing"at Queensway Orthodontics and Dental (Billingham) in front of a team of 20 telephonists, TCOs, nurses, marketeers and managers, working my way through my standard content on internal marketing (how to enrol your patients as digital advocates).

This afternoon, I'll be "performing"again, this time with a similar size audience (I choose that word deliberately) at The Central England Specialist Referral Centre (Solihull) and we will be taking a look at communication skills within teams.

There's a technique I first learned from Ashley Latter 20 years ago and still utilise every week of my working life. That is to work my way around any "audience" in a workshop environment (you can't do this at a dental conference unfortunately) and ask four simple questions:

  • What is your name?

  • Where were you born?

  • What do you do for a living?

  • Can you please share an interesting fact about yourself that has nothing to do with dentistry?

It's the answers to the final question that always brings the room to life. Yesterday, amongst others, we heard from a female weightlifter, a lady who is just about to publish her first children's book and the proud owner of two university degrees in law and marketing. You'd never guess which they were.

Ashley's tip also allows me to introduce myself at the very start of the day and humanise the "bloke at the front" by talking about some of the adventures I've had in life (thank you Channel 4 television).

Perhaps the quotation should read "listen and connect, before you perform for them".

That's a lesson we can all take to heart every day of our lives.

Whether it's me, chatting to my cab driver at 05:45 this morning, or you, taking the time to listen to your patient share with you some personal information or observations; empathetically listening out for any clues your team members may leave in conversation that indicate deeper issues in their personal lives.

Take a little time out every day to listen and connect - then you can perform.

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