Harness the Power of the Visual

  • The Power of an Apology

    I was furious. My 83 year old mother had arrived at the hospital via ambulance. She was having trouble breathing and chest pains. Her thin body was trembling and her words were slurred.

    The doctor in the ER strode into the examining room. “Hey, have you been drinking?” he asked her with a humorless laugh. Everything he did and said after that telegraphed “I don’t give a hoot.” He talked with the nurses about his expensive vacation and brushed off questions about mom’s condition. We were angry at how cavalierly this guy was treating our mother. He diagnosed pneumonia, but sent her home without a prescription for oxygen. Later that day, her condition was so serious, we drove her to a hospital 30 miles away where she remained for four days.

    A week later, Mom suffered complications and was back in the ER. That same doctor was there. (We had penned, but not yet sent, a letter of bitter complaint.) My brother and I told the admitting nurse that we didn’t want him to treat mom because we had a bad experience with him last time. As we waited for a different doctor, my brother and I could see this man going over charts. It suddenly seemed juvenile not to tell him ourselves why we didn’t want him near our mother. I asked to speak to him in the hall. I told him how disappointed we had been with how he had treated our mother previously and gave some specifics.

    He said he didn’t remember her or us. He said flatly, “I don’t know what I’m apologizing for, but I’m sorry.” He walked away.

    My brother and I looked at each other and wondered, “What just happened?” Well at least we had spoken the truth as we saw it and had communicated directly. We decided to send the letter of complaint later the next day.

    About 45 minutes later as we sat next to my mother’s bed, my brother’s cell phone rang. It was the doctor apologizing profusely. He said he realized he had been right at the end of his shift and probably wasn’t at his best. He then went on to tell my brother how much it means to him to practice good medicine and to take good care of people. He said he hadn’t been aware of how he was coming across. “Apology accepted,” I heard my brother say and “Thank you very much for calling me.”

    That call lifted such a heavy burden of anger off all our shoulders. I could literally breathe more freely. It was as if I had put down a bag of rocks. We agreed that it was no longer necessary to send a complaint letter. These very real feelings of relief reinforced for me how anger consumes so much energy from our minds and bodies. It takes energy to stay mad. I would like to devote that energy to other things.

    The experience also reminded me how powerful a sincere apology can be. I look at that doctor with new eyes.  I believe that if mom has to be treated by him again in the future, that she will get considerate and thorough care. It’s a good lesson. A sincere and humble apology has the power to heal.

  • Collaboration in Action

    Collaboration in Action

    We have an opportunity to get up to speed on today’s most pressing leadership and human productivity issues. Human resource leaders in the Madison area are collaborating to offer a day of hot topics  as part of a larger conference of the IPMA-HR Central regional conference. This collaborative learning event takes place on Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at the Madison Marriott West. (The full IPMA-HR event runs June 6-9.)

    I have the honor of being one of the speakers and a co-sponsor. I’ll be leading sessions on “Bringing Your Strategic Plan to Life: A Guide to Implementation” and “The Clover Practice™ for Leaders.” The tantalizing list of presentations by veteran presenters also includes:

    • Retaining and Developing a High Quality Staff
    • How to Ramp, Rally and Revive Employees on a Flat Budget
    • Social Media: New and Creative Ways to Communicate
    • Employee Onboarding and Reboarding: Getting Employees Up to Speed Faster in New or Cross-Trained Positions
    • Using Conflict to Promote Labor/Management Collaboration and Success
    • Generation Soup: Inspiring Today’s Multi-Gen Workforce to Higher Performance
    • Understanding a Multi-generational Workforce
    • The Supervisor’s Role in Building a Customer Service Culture
    • The Supervisor’s Motivational Tool Kit
    • Increase Productivity, Innovation and Profits by Working Harmoniously with Human Nature
    • Sustainable Health Care; Strategies to Support Healthier Decisions
    • Health Care Reform is Here, What to Do Now?
    • Communicating Successfully in Person or Via Technology: What Works and When
    • Building the Future, One Coaching Question at a Time
    • Succession Planning and Performance Management for Engagement and Results
    • Preferred Learning Styles and the MBTI
    • Making a Difference with Mediasite

    The day will begin with a fun walk-run and be capped off with Suzy Favor Hamilton, 3-Time Olympic Runner, 9-Time NCAA Champion, Motivational Speaker, Realtor speaking on “Perfection is Not Success”

    The collaborative nature of this event attracted local cosponsors including Madison Area Quality & Improvement Network (MAQIN), Station 1 Consulting, Inc., Wisconsin Association of Mediators (WAM), Wisconsin Center for Performance Excellence (WCPE), Wisconsin State Training Council, UW-Madison Executive Education, and UW-Madison Office of Human Resource Development.   

    You can still register for this day of rich learning and networking. The fee for Tuesday, June 8, which includes a continental breakfast. is $125. Walk in registrations will be accepted. Feel free to call me if you have questions at 608-445-1085.

  • We Can Rewire Our Minds

    We carry many unconscious habits and prejudices from our past experiences into our everyday work and family lives.

    Yet scientific research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is showing that we can literally change the way we think, act, and see the world. Our brains have much greater plasticity and capacity to change than previously thought. See the NightLine story on the impacts of meditation at