Message from the President - Spring 2016

Learning to Listen

listening with heart logoWe spend between 1/3 and 1/2 of our lives listening. Whether we’re talking about business, health care, friendships, family, or our most intimate relationships, listening is at the very center it all.

Good listening skills, according to research, are the most important part of good communication. Whether that success is measured by healing the sick and injured, advancing in our careers, being an effective leader, or simply enjoying meaningful relationships with our friends and family – it all depends on good listening. But how well are we really doing it?

Research suggests that most of us are actually very poor listeners. Although good listening is arguably quite simple, good listeners are unfortunately quite rare. According to the Joint Commission, about 70 percent of all serious safety events in the healthcare industry are related to failures of communication.

So why does all this matter?

Good listening skills have been linked to better marriages, better leaders, better physicians, better nurses, better outcomes, and better businesses. At the same time, failures of communication, with listening at the center of those failures, harm relationships, harm safety, and can harm patients.

However, the good news is, just like communication skills such as writing and speaking, there are better ways to listen. There are ways to improve understanding, improve caring, improve critical thinking, and improve problem solving. All those things should help improve health care.

That is why Lakeland has begun an educational journey to improve our listening skills. In March, we hosted “Listening with Heart,” a special live event for nearly 4,000 employees where we discussed this very important topic. Over the coming months, our team members will be introduced to a series of learning modules. Each module will include practical information that will help us develop the necessary skills to become better listeners.

At the end of it all, I sincerely believe this journey will help heal relationships, improve our care, prevent errors, and save lives. At the same time, I would challenge each of you to ask a spouse, a significant other, or a teenager in your life how well you listen. Then try to develop a few practical steps you could take to improve your own skills. I look forward to learning right alongside you.

doctor loren hamelhamel-signature

© Spectrum Health Lakeland 2021