Straight Talk - "Five Frequencies of Communication"

August 14, 2014

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Communicating—openly and honestly—ought to be a requisite for all of us. Learning how to become a better communicator was one objective of a workshop titled “Know, Feel, Do, and the Five Frequencies of Communication,” presented by Tanya Mann of MG Strategy to 120 NCH leaders last week.

Ms. Mann’s “five frequencies of communication” are the kinds of things we should take to heart when we communicate with patients and each other. Here are the five:

  1. Decisions and actions. Our caring for patients and families is evident more in what we do than in what we say. About 60% of our in-patients (22,000) come through one of our two Emergency Rooms, and I’m sure none of them expected to spend their next night in a hospital. Being supportive, confident, and competent helps everyone—care receivers and care givers.

  2. Rewards and recognitions. Tomorrow’s $300 check for all eligible colleagues as a reward for the “endless season” is a timely and perfect example. Our “Be Nice” cards are another good way to recognize each other, as well as our “Guardian Angel” program, in which grateful patients can recognize their caregivers with a gift to NCH. As I have suggested many times, positive feedback is so important (and so rare) in today’s society.

  3. What we tolerate or don’t tolerate. Ruby Payne, an expert on changing behavior, told us years ago that five positives and one negative are much more effective in encouraging correct behavior than either all positives or all negatives. “What you permit, you promote,” is a sage quote by Associate Chief Human Resource officer Renee Thigpen; adds our Chief Operating Officer for the system Phil Dutcher, with his decades of experience at the highest levels of leadership, “It is always about the people.” As people who care about the patient experience we should always hold ourselves and each other accountable for delivering excellence in every patient experience. We have a wonderful team of dedicated folks who have moved the quality of NCH over the past 14 years to extraordinary levels. People have made the difference as we have been recognized as the only system in southwest Florida included in U. S. News & World Report as best in five areas. We also received the only “A”s for safety by The Leapfrog Group, and are among the top 50 for Cardiovascular Disease as ranked by Truven Health Analytics. We have a great opportunity to match these outstanding results in our Patient Satisfaction; tolerating only the most positive attitudes to the patient experience will get us there.

  4. Informal communication. “What should I know that I don’t know?” That’s the key question we might ask during rounding or any feedback opportunity with colleagues; and then following up with an action plan to close the loop. “Management by wandering around” is a great way to understand and connect. Sharing stories of good events and cross-pollinating good ideas helps us all accomplish our goal of better serving our community.

  5. Formal communication. If you’re a regular reader of “Straight Talk,” which I have been writing weekly for almost eight years, you have experienced one of our formal communications for both internal and external audiences. We produce several other regular written or electronic periodicals, as well as many other radio, web, and person-to-person communications. We are looking to be more involved with social media, with expanded Facebook and Twitter presence. As a true believer in communications, I am sensitive to avoiding too much “noise” which can confuse our message to our team and our community. Our communications should always be pointed and purposeful.

“Know, Feel, Do” is the other part of the workshop I mentioned at the start. If you return to this column next week, you’ll learn about a specific colleague who is doing exactly that to help all of us have a safe, comfortable, satisfying experience at NCH. In other words, I’ll be right back here, communicating.


Allen S. Weiss, M.D., President and CEO

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