40: Three Common Communication Mistakes Physicians Make

by Jen Barna MD | Leadership, Physician Coaching, Podcast

Lisa Kuzman’s DocWorking courses on Diagnosing Your Leadership Style and Communication For The Win are coming soon to! Please click here to let us know you’re interested and we’ll keep you updated on the go-live dates!

“So the little bit of time to build that connection, is definitely going to serve you in the long run” -Lisa Kuzman

Today’s episode is all about communication! Coach Jill Farmer talks with Lisa Kuzman about how we can improve our communication skills in order to improve our work and home life. Do you ever feel as though what you said wasn’t heard or that what you said was taken differently than you intended? If so, tune in to find out how to be heard and be understood and also how to hear and understand others. 


Lisa Kuzman is a clinical social worker turned Leadership Coach for Women of Influence, who helps her clients understand how to create massive change without re-traumatizing themselves. She also provides trauma-sensitive certification and supervision for coaches in the personal development industry


By blending her 15 years of mental health experience in healthcare, learnings from entrepreneurship, and personal trauma survivorship, she supports her clients with understanding how the high-risk threshold of running a business and showing up as a leader can trigger old stuff that needs to be attended to rather than ignored so it doesn’t block one’s ability to create change. 


While physicians earn a great wage and hold positions of power, medical training doesn’t adequately prepare one for the leadership acumen required to manage their multifaceted roles. Lisa’s approach to leadership, her background in healthcare, and her understanding of trauma offer unique insights that physicians can apply to every area of their lives. 

Excerpts from the show:


“Lisa, why do you think that physicians might want to take a closer look at the way they communicate in their work or in the world?” – Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer

“Part of the reason why this is so important is because it is the most critical element of clearly helping people understand the task at hand, getting people on board and being able to move forward smoothly. Physicians are highly skilled at all the things that they do and communication is one of those elements that is really, really helpful for pulling it all together.” -Lisa Kuzman

“The first mistake we’re going to be talking about here that you’ve identified is underestimating the big picture. What do you mean by that?” -Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer

“What I mean by that is in any given situation you have your environment, right? So you have all the people in the environment including you and your patient or the nursing staff or other auxiliary staff around you outside of the environment. You have the task at hand, you have however much sleep you got or didn’t get, whatever may or may not be going on for the other parties involved, right? Everybody comes with a different perspective when it comes to communication and it can be really easy to arrive in a conversation and only think about it through your own lens. That is the way that most of us do approach communication. But there can be a lot of cues in the environment if you just expand your lens out a little further to look at the whole big picture. Including aspects for yourself and other parties involved and then even the environment. And it doesn’t have to be a super in-depth thing. It can take 20 seconds of consideration. It doesn’t have to be a huge extra task. But that can be an extremely helpful component for being able to shift and maneuver your way into or through communication to make it go more smoothly.” – Lisa Kuzman

“So an example might be somebody who is in a hurry and is backed up, they might run in just to deliver information and it can backfire because people will tell them later that they didn’t hear or understand what they said. So would you say the technique for being able to help avoid this mistake as you said is just sort of just taking in the bigger picture? Just pause, and for instance look everybody in the room in the eye for a second? Is that a good way to take the temperature so to speak, of what the environment is, to help you calculate a better way for you to say what it is you need to say to get the outcome that you think is going to deliver the most help in the given situation?” – Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer

“Yeah, I think a quick pause is super helpful. I think the other thing is even just slowing down a touch, right? When moving really fast and juggling many balls in the air, sometimes what happens is that we’re not really taking much time to breathe and we’re kind of rushing around so we just simply missed something. Even just slowing down, taking a couple deep breaths before you step into a room, allowing yourself 30 seconds to kind of collect yourself or even just to make a little eye contact.” -Lisa Kuzman

“Yeah, eye contact is one of those things I sometimes share with my coaching clients. If they’re really highly cerebral and they’re used to thinking about things, they often are looking up and out to the left as their brains are kind of spinning and people will say, ‘You weren’t talking to me’ and they’re like, ‘Who else was I talking to? You’re the only person in the room.’ But it’s something that doesn’t always come naturally to people. So I think that’s interesting. So the second thing I want to talk about is that mistake that you have identified based on your experience in this realm, is physicians don’t always think about positioning themselves in communication. What does that mean?” -Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer

“Yeah, so I come to my approach around this from social work. Social workers often use what’s called a strengths-based perspective. Essentially what I mean when I say this is, to know yourself well enough to know what it is that you might need to be a little more successful in communication. So that people hear you. So that your thoughts are collected. So that the point gets across. When we know it’s going to go well for us or when it’s going to go poorly for us we can adjust accordingly so that we can position ourselves for success.” -Lisa Kuzman

“What might be a specific example of that? Or can you think of one that would help people put that into a practical example?” -Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer

“Yeah, one of the things that always works for me is to really take the time to slow down. The eye contact we already mentioned. But being collected. I am somebody that can really ramble and go off on a tangent. I like to be chitty chatty and sometimes when there’s not a lot of time, that’s not really productive or helpful. Or if tensions are high, it’s also not helpful. So one of the things I do is look at What is the number one thing I want someone to hear me say, that I want to get across? Because what I say versus what someone hears might be very different. So I come up with one to three things that I hope that people have as a take away from our communication. Then that helps me not ramble around with my words.” -Lisa Kuzman

Check out Lisa’s self-paced course called Communication For The Win which is specifically for physicians. If you want to dive deeper to find out how you can be a more effective communicator to deliver meaningful results this course is for you. Click here for more info and to get updates on when it goes live! 

Check out Lisa Kuzman’s podcast, Serving it Hot, a podcast about Women in Leadership. You can find her website here or follow her on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran

Board-certified practicing radiologist, founder and CEO of DocWorking, and host of top ranked DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast

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