Category Archives: Communication

The importance of trust between colleagues: It’s all about the little things

“Tea” by chumsdock is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Simon Sinek’s Life Advice Will Change Your Future

That named above is billed as a motivational talk for business leaders, and that it what it is [with a typically borderline hyperbolic title]. However,  business leaders are not the only audience who might benefit. I am a big fan of Simon Sinek and I got a lot out of this talk. It has a large focus on the importance of trust between colleagues which makes it relevant to healthcare colleagues where trust is essential for effective team-working (and consequently on patient safety and the effectiveness of care). Check it out.

Trust is vital during this pandemic. More than ever we all need to trust each other – to follow the social distancing measures, to thoroughly wash hands, fully isolate if symptomatic of COVID-19 and other government requirements on our behaviour. In the front-line of the NHS that trust needs to extend further to instances where social distancing is not possible – trust between colleagues; trust between healthcare professionals and patients. This is a big ask for healthcare professionals who are risking their lives on the front-line of healthcare more than at any other time in the history of the NHS. Trust needs to be earned, true, but it needs to be earned quickly.

Brief, ordinary and effective

A little bit of practical advice might be to remind you (introduce you to?) of the ‘brief, ordinary and effective model’ of communication (which BU students can access here).  It is a neat reminder of how effective communication might be still be achieved despite trying circumstances. Trusting relationships are built on rapport, and rapport is achieved by opening up about ourselves to another, revealing an aspect of ourselves that we are comfortable sharing with a relative stranger who might then reciprocate – thus a connection is formed with a fellow human being.  It’s little things that achieve this meaningful connection – shared support of a football team, a love of food, music, whatever (even weather, if you can’t think of anything more interesting!) – it doesn’t matter as long as it promotes a connection. This is not always easy to do, revealing something of ourselves, as it makes us vulnerable.

Healthcare professionals have and will continue to make themselves vulnerable – it was ever thus. But the pressures the NHS is under and will continue to be over the coming weeks as the number of covid-19 cases peaks means that tempers may be more likely to fray as workload exceeds capacity, as colleagues need to self-isolate. Emotions may run high as as heart-wrenching decisions need to be made that would not be contemplated during more normal times, as tiredness and fear contribute to the risk of trust breaking down. That is why a focus on trust is so vital at this time, because trust is fragile – anything as fragile and as worthwhile as trust deserves to be carefully protected. Never stop valuing trust and, while some people will let you down, what this pandemic is showing, I believe, is way more instances of the best of human behaviour rather than the worst (outstanding book on this by the way – Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Our Worst by Robert Salposky, one of the best books you will ever read) – and it all hinges on trust. But how to adhere to the best side of our nature with the stress and strain of this pandemic invading and pervading our lives? We won’t always get it right, but especially when we go awry and our behaviour lets us down we can remind ourselves: be brief, ordinary and effective, and try again. I hope this advice will change your future.