Difficult Conversations Driven by Data

by | Apr 13, 2021

Difficult Conversations Driven by Data

I recently sat in a conference room (socially distanced, of course!) among the top leaders in anesthesia when DPI Anesthesia held its First Annual Leadership Retreat. Not only was it great to see friends that I had not seen in a while, but it was also wonderful to create new relationships with those I had never met before. Some were new to DPI and others worked in locations far from mine. We exchanged great ideas, engaged in meaningful discussions, and learned more about each other and our company. We even had time to enjoy the beautiful resort where the retreat was held.

How Relationships Impact Anesthesia Care

One of the core tenets of DPI Anesthesia is relationships and this Leadership Retreat offered opportunities to develop and strengthen relationships with each other, both in a formal setting and in an informal setting. Engaging with other providers who are nationally-renowned experts in the field of anesthesia was invigorating and reminded me that DPI is truly committed to clinical excellence. Part of clinical excellence hinges on emotional intelligence, situational awareness and fueling positive relationships. Relationships are important in anesthesia—we foster relationships with our co-workers, hospital/facility leaders, surgeons, and other health care providers. These relationships drive our efforts and direct our paths toward providing the best anesthesia care possible for our patients.

Becoming Conflict Proficient in Anesthesia Management

As leaders, we are responsible for having meaningful conversations and making crucial decisions. Leaders must be predictable, accountable and consistent. When leaders engage in confrontation, it is only as part of a search for facts and truth. This is a key element of having difficult conversations. At the Leadership Retreat, I learned new ways to engage in difficult conversations that were eye-opening to me and can be applied in my life both professionally and personally.

The biggest revelation about difficult conversations I learned is to have conversations around data. Focusing conversations on data removes feelings and emotions from the subject matter and demands a factual exchange of information. Instead of saying, “you are always late,” you would instead mention the dates and times that person was late. Being objective, matter of fact and consistent with the person you are speaking with is paramount to centering difficult conversations on data.

When it comes to anesthesia management, this strategy can be applied in countless situations. For example, instead of saying to a provider, “your turnovers are slow,” you would show them the average turnover rates and their actual times. This way, you become “conflict proficient” (proactive) which results in less emotional stress for both parties and a conversation that is more focused on goals. In turn, you become more respected and a better leader. Less time is wasted sorting through emotionally charged dialogue and a solution to the issue at hand can be reached faster.

Never Take Data Personally

Hospital or facility administrators know the value of data. When DPI leaders work together with administrators to help accomplish their goals, data always drives decisions. Choosing to discuss facts over feelings is always the best way to accomplish progress—whether in the board room or the surgical suite.

Conversations and confrontations do not have to be personal. Adopt a conflict proficient tone the next time you need to have a difficult conversation. It’s factual. It’s direct. It’s honest. It’s the DPI Way!

“Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone.”

— Margaret J. Wheatley