Can You Last More Than 14 Seconds at This?

by Nov 6, 2020Approach

As a team leader, what could you possibly learn from the practice of bedside medicine?

To find out, watch the video of Abraham Verghese TED’s talk called “A doctor’s touch”.

Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at Stanford University Medical School, Verghese teaches the value of the physical examination in diagnosing patients.

I watched his talk for the first time in 2013, and I was touched. So, I watched it again tonight.

An average Doctor in the US will interrupt his patient 14 seconds after the consultation started.

14 seconds!

Verghese’s message is that modern medicine is in danger of losing a powerful, old-fashioned tool: the human touch. He describes our strange new world where patients are merely data points, and calls for a return to the traditional one-on-one physical exam.

Beyond medicine, the same concept applies to all of us.

How much more time can you listen to someone without saying anything or thinking about anything else than them?

Can you last more than 14 seconds?

We are losing the art of the examination

For a physician, shortening the physical exam can mean life or death. Could he or she have diagnosed your relative’s cancer earlier on by spending just a few more seconds listening, observing or touching the abdomen?

At work, I believe that we might steadily be losing the use of our senses as primary tools to assess and diagnose situations. Listening for a few more seconds to some body’s thoughts and feelings may strongly impact their life.

Very often, I see us all dive into our machines to find the answers that natural observation would usually deliver. It’s like the pressure to save time and be more accurate, is making us forget that we are here first and foremost for people, whether it’s our customers or our team.

Observation is a top priority in my practice. But this year, with so much remote work, I have to say that it has become more difficult.

I am wondering if you are feeling the same.

How much is this costing you?

When you don’t observe people enough, you miss:

  • Finding out why your product or idea is vital to them.
  • Hearing their own words. These words could help you re-imagine your strategy with a fresh story and language.
  • A chance to create a connection with sales and marketing material that reflect a new understanding.
  • Aligning your leadership team, employees and investors.

What could you gain at doing more human observation?

This would mean more room for human intelligence, more meaning, more sense-making. Believe me, your customers and your team need this badly.

Listen, you could also build more trust, the most basic element of human relationships.

When people feel heard, they feel valued and they follow you.

You also hear them express their problem with their own words and if you pay attention, you will hear the core of their narrative, the mental framework that deeply influences how they act and think. This is the key to driving change.

This is a crucial skill for someone in a leadership position, and a top priority for someone who wants to spread an innovative idea.

It is a must if you want your business to last longer.

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