Physician Team Strategies

Physician Team Strategies, is a national healthcare leadership development company providing consulting to multi-disciplinary teams in healthcare organizations who want to build powerful, sustainable teams that make giant leaps in their performance.

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What do you do if you’ve hurt a physician team member, intentionally or unintentionally?  Difficult as it is, your first step is to acknowledge it. You might say something like, “I’m sorry I didn’t follow through on what I told you I’d do,” or “I apologize for not listening to you and respecting your point of view.”  Doing this requires humility, but it’s an essential first step to rebuilding trust in any relationship.  The second step is to prove, through your actions, that you mean it.  Words without actions are meaningless.

Confronting issue in a non-accusing way

What if someone has hurt you?  You must gently confront the issue and tell the person, in a non-accusing way, what hurt you.  Begin your sentence with “I”, not “you”.  For example, “I felt hurt when you were critical of me last week.  I need to know you support me and believe that I’m doing my best.”

Developing Healthy Physician Team Relationships

This give and take is what healthy physician team relationships are all about. Whether you have hurt someone else or someone else has hurt you, taking these steps will leave you with greater peace of mind.  Do this, and you will have the kind of relationships that can handle disagreements and move forward when they occur.


When you as a physician team member have a conflict with someone, it can be very difficult to put your emotions aside.  Many people lead with their emotions, often to their own detriment.  Psychologists have discovered that more people behave themselves into new ways of thinking than think themselves into new ways of behaving. Sometimes we believe that we must have the feeling first, before we act.  But in fact, changing your actions will lead to a change in feelings.

Act Respectfully

For example, if you are in a heated discussion with a physician team member, you may not feel like acting respectfully toward the other person.  Act respectfully anyway, and see if you don’t feel your blood pressure falling.  You may not feel like listening to their ideas with an open mind.  Listen anyway, and see if you don’t find some common ground with them.

If you want different results, take different actions!

As the saying goes, “If you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten.”  Act first, and the feelings will follow.

The Importance of Non-Verbal Messages

It is important to be completely aware of the messages that you are sending through your body language, choice of words, and even your tone of voice. We speak volumes with our facial expressions, even by the way we look or don’t look at the other person.

Keep in mind that your words account for only 7% of the message you are sending. That means that 93% of your communication is through your body language and the tone of your voice.

55% of the message you communicate is through your non-verbal cues – your body language. Your facial expressions and your posture actually say more to the other person than the words you speak.

38% of what you are communicating is expressed through your voice. When speaking, your tone of voice emphasizes and validates what you are really feeling.

Next time you have something important to say, consider not just your words, but also the message you are conveying through your non-verbal communication; it speaks the loudest of all.

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How to Ask Great Questions

Asking questions can be one of the best ways to enhance a conversation, but the wrong questions can actually hinder conversation.  Not all questions are created equal!  Open-ended questions are friendlier and more effective than closed-ended questions.  They usually start with “What” or “How”.

Here are some examples of how to change closed-ended questions into open-ended questions:

Instead of “Did you like it?” you could ask, “What did you like about it?” or “How did you like it?”
Instead of “Are you upset?” you could ask “What’s bothering you?” or “How are you feeling?”
Instead of “Would you like to do something else?”  or you could ask “What would you like to do?”
Instead of “Any questions?” you could ask “What questions do you have?”

Using open-ended questions requires effort.  However, the effort is well worth it, especially in a tense situation.  The next time you are in a tense conversation, make your questions open-ended, and watch the dynamic change.  You will have a much better conversation, and the other person will appreciate your communication skills!

Learn This Skill to Improve all of Your Relationships

If you want to improve your relationship with your children, your spouse, your coworkers, or anyone else, learn to acknowledge their feelings before you seek to fix their problem.  Sometimes we hear someone’s problem and immediately start in with, “You should . . .” or “What I would do is . . .”

In our eagerness to help, we jump right over the most important thing; acknowledging how they feel.  At best, people are only partially ready to hear your ideas at this point.  Worst-case scenario, they feel like you’ve shut them down.  To open their ears to your suggestions, take just a moment and ask yourself, “How is this person feeling right now?”  Then articulate it.  “You sound frustrated,” or “you seem sad about that,” are simple yet powerful observations.

The reason it works on everyone, from children to CEOs, is that our human nature yearns to feel understood.  Try it, and watch your communications flourish.

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