The Radar Tool for Healthcare Workers to Enhance Interpersonal Relationships with Margaret Webb

by Coach Jill Farmer | Podcast, Physician Coaching, Work Life Balance

In this episode Margaret Webb introduces us to a tool that she developed that will help all of us in our relationships whether they be personal or professional.

“It’s a really good human practice, particularly in relationships, for us to name what’s there. So that we can bring people into our brains and not presume they should just be able to read our minds.” -Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer

In this episode, Master Certified Coaches Jill Farmer and Margaret Webb introduce us to a tool that Margaret developed that will help all of us in our relationships whether they be personal or professional. Margaret calls it the Radar Tool and she walks us through the reasons behind it and how it works, as well as how she uses it in her own marriage. Margaret explains how it has eased frustrations and encouraged meaningful communication and understanding for her and her husband, and how it can do the same for you.

Margaret Webb is a parenting coach who specializes in supporting parents with children who are on their own developmental timeline or who simply march to the beat of their own drum. (ie. Autism, Anxiety, ADHD, ADD, SPD, Apraxic, Dyslexic, Learning Differences, etc.) She and her neurosurgeon husband of 25 years thought that they knew what to expect while they were expecting their now 17 year old son but quickly learned he had other things in store for them. Turned out that the most powerful and helpful lessons for them involved shifting their own expectations and internal rules rather than placing all of the focus on him.

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Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran

Please enjoy the full transcript below

Jill: It’s a really good human practice, particularly in relationships, for us to name what’s there. So that we can bring people into our brains and not presume they should just be able to read our minds.

[DocWorking theme]

Jill: Hi, everyone, we are so glad you’re here on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast and the podcast is brought to you by DocWorking Thrive. Go to today to learn more about our coaching subscription program just for physicians. We have monthly coaching, monthly peer groups, we have all kinds of information for physicians on everything from time management, to stress management, to leadership development, and communication strategies. Check out DocWorking Thrive today at to see if it can help you in your work and life. On the podcast today, I’m really excited, because we’re going to be talking about a tool that could help every physician, every human out there when it comes to relationships. 

In our Coach’s Corner conversation today, I’m thrilled to be joined by my friend and colleague, Master Certified Coach, Margaret Webb. She is the developer of the ‘Parenting the Child You Didn’t Expect While You Were Expecting‘ Self-Guided Course. She is a brilliant parenting coach, life coach, and just a great all-around wise human. So, Margaret, thank you so much for being here.

Margaret: I am super excited to be here. 

Jill: Today, we’re going to be talking about something that I think anybody who is in a relationship, partnership, or marriage can relate to. Margaret, not only comes at this wisdom as a coach, but she is married to a neurosurgeon. She is the spouse of a physician and has been now for the better part of 20 years. So, she can give us her experience and wisdom from the lived experience of having been in a physician partnership. 

One of the things when it comes to relationships and our partners, Margaret, is we sometimes can get frustrated, because we’re not seeing things the same way. You developed this ‘Radar Tool’ that is really designed to help us as spouses get over the frustration of feeling like, “We should be seeing things and perceiving things the same way.” Can you talk a little about that for us? 

Margaret: Yes, I actually came up with it when I was coaching one of my parent clients and they were frustrated, because their children weren’t seeing eye to eye. I was like, “Oh, well, it’s just because–” All of a sudden, I had this image of a radar screen. I was like, “Oh, it’s just that what’s on one child’s radar is not on somebody else’s.” In that moment, I realized, “Oh, my goodness, this is exactly what causes a lot of tension in relationships” and it has caused tension in our relationship, because my radar has a lot of dots on it, so to speak, like, just so many things. That’s just how my brain works. 

My husband has a couple. I posed this to him and said, “Does this resonate with you?” He said, “Totally, it absolutely resonates.” Seeing it from that perspective, it helped me to not feel so frustrated that he wasn’t able to see things the way that I saw them while also nudging me to be more clear and specific with the things that I needed to ask for help with or to delegate to him knowing that just because what was on my radar was not on his radar, it didn’t mean that he didn’t want to help with it or couldn’t help with it, it was just not even in his sphere of awareness. I think that having that, it’s improved our communication, it’s improved just our frustration levels with each other, because he probably looks at me and says, “She’s all over the place. She’s got 50 different projects going on. Why can’t she just focus on one thing?” But it gives us a visual understanding of what our brains are processing or how we go about living. Does that make sense?

Jill: A lot of sense. Can you think of a time when there was a conflict or frustration, either something that kept happening or a specific incident where you guys had different things in your field of awareness, different items on your radar that then ended up creating an issue?

Margaret: Absolutely. Every time we would travel, I’m a big visual person, so, I made some visuals. This would be what my radar looks like when we travel.

Jill: For those of you listening, it’s a green circle with a lot of dots on it [crosstalk]  

Margaret: Oh, that’s right. Yeah, it is a chocolate chip cookie with a lot of chocolate chips all around. 

Jill: For sure.

Margaret: Each of the dots for travel and when we’re about to travel. I just jotted some of those things down. It’s clothes, the dogs, the mail, the house, our child, travel arrangements, all of the things, any tickets, or passes, or anything that is needed to help our experience flow. Those are on my radar. His radar would be a chocolate chip cookie that is very sad that only has a few chocolate chips on it. His would be clothes, coffee or espresso, and then electronics that he might need. So, I would be sweating and spend days prior just exhausting myself trying to get everything taken care of, so that when we got in the car it wasn’t like, “Oh, hey, Margaret, do we have X, Y, or Z. If we didn’t, then I would feel horrible.” It would just spin into this big cycle. 

What I’ve realized is to be aware of all of those things. Then to reduce the amount of frustration or tension that we have, I will say, “Can you be in charge of going up and making sure that our son has in his tote bag what he needs to be packed.” As soon as I started doing that and being very clear and specific with him about what I needed support with, he could put it on his radar and he could get it done. It was no problem. Instead of me being in my head thinking, “Why isn’t he helping me, why is he not thinking about where the dogs are going to be for a week, why is he not having this on his radar?” Because he doesn’t. That’s reality.

Jill: Right. In coaching, we love a tool or metaphor, because it gives us a shared language around a way to adjust something that’s not working. In a lot of my physician clients, I can see frustration, and a lot of the frustration is in relationships in general. Relationship experts will tell us, when we are experiencing something in a certain way, we tend to universalize it and just presume that the person that we’re closest to or our spouse of all people should just be able to think and see things the way that we see them without communication and we make that a dysfunction of the relationship that they can’t read our minds on both sides. So, this helps us as people who have more on our radar, whatever we’re focusing on in our radar. It’s a really good human practice, particularly in relationships, for us to name what’s there. So that we can bring people into our brains and not presume they should just be able to read our minds. So, I love that tool and it gives us just a really good communication platform to have the other person’s name, what’s on their radar, and then to come up with shared values in the relationship. 

What is our intention here? You talk a lot in your coaching practice with parents, and we both talk a lot about it, and I know both try in our relationships to get in sync with our spouses on what’s our shared intention here and what’s on our radar screen. It gives us a really good opportunity for us to name that shared intention, which means that whatever it is we’re doing is more likely to be successful, because we’re more likely to be headed in the same direction and looking out for the same things.

Margaret: Yeah. As I was playing with this and thinking about our conversation, you can be in a relationship with somebody who also has a lot of dots on their radar screen. You can be in a partnership with lots and lots of dots on each of your radars, and they’re all totally focused on different things, just as much as you can be somebody, who has a few things on the radar and be partnered with somebody, who has a few things on their radar. But if they’re very different things, then that’s good information to have. Okay, what are those specific things? Then like you were just saying, how do we mesh that, and get on to the same page with regards to intention, and then be able to give the attention necessary to the common goal.

Jill: Mm-hmm. I like it too, because you and I both know, your husband’s a brilliant neurosurgeon, and one of the gifts that he has is extreme focus on what is really important. It’s what helps him be extremely good at what he does. A lot of times his radar is focused on work and on your son. It’s pointed in wonderful directions. It’s not that anybody should be out there trying to change their spouse into being totally different than they are and just change the way that they’re thinking about or looking at their priorities in their field of awareness of vision. It’s communicating better with each other as partners and spouses, so that we’re clear on where the other person’s focus and attention is, and then asking for what we need if the focus and attention is more than one person should be managing for themselves.

Margaret: Yeah. We talk about this a lot of time. We actually talked about it last night, and he’s like, “Oh, yeah, you can totally use me as an example of somebody who is super hyper focused. Give me a task, and I can get it done, and I can put all my focus.” There could be total chaos going on all around him and he wouldn’t notice, which I used to envy and still envy at times. But there’s a lot of gifts in how my radar operates. I was also thinking this morning about just what this looks like in physician land. I know just from what I hear from his people of what that can look like. 

But I think just to have this awareness with regards to thinking of like office managers, they’ve got to have a big radar. They’re probably really good, because they have a lot of things on their radars, and the schedulers, and the PAs, and the MAs, and the nurses, and then there are people who have their specific things where it’s like, “Okay, that’s where their focus goes.” But then within that focus, they can have a big radar of, “Okay, here’s my patient. So, these are the things that I need to be on the lookout for.” Does that resonate with what you have experienced with your clients?

Jill: Yeah, that’s exactly I was going to say next as we were wrapping up is, whether you’re in a partnership or a spouse, in a personal relationship or whether you apply these in your life to other professional relationships you have, working with colleagues, managing staff, focusing on patient care, thinking for a second, pausing to get clear with who it is you’re relating to, on where their focus is, what’s on their radar screen, what’s catching their attention, and helping to sync those up and get clear on communicating what’s on yours. It’s just going to go so far in helping move meaningful relationships forward. It doesn’t mean you’re always going to get along perfectly. It’s like, “I’ve got this new Radar Tool and I’m never going to have any conflict, again.” 

Because sometimes, you could still disagree on what’s there. But it goes a long way toward resolving a huge relationship challenge that happens in workplaces, that happens in marriages and partnerships, which is thinking the other person should know what you know. So, that’s why I think I love this tool so much and I hope our listeners go out and start using it right away. Margaret, if anybody wants information on parenting the child they weren’t expecting when they were expecting or other tools and advice that you have, how can they get ahold of you?

Margaret: They can email me at [email protected] or go to my website at

Jill: Thank you so much. It was so fun to have this conversation. I’m going to be using my new radar screen metaphor tool in working on all the relationships, professional and personal in my life as well. So, thanks so much for sharing your insights with us today.

Margaret: Thank you.

Jill: And thanks all of you for joining us. We love having you listen in on these conversations. Remember, DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast is brought to you by DocWorking Thrive, our coaching subscription program just for physicians where you get coaching from our top coaches as well as peer support from others in medicine, and you also get a host of resources on everything from a leadership development to communication to time and stress management. So, go to to check out DocWorking Thrive today. Until next time, I’m Jill Farmer.


Amanda: I’m Amanda Taran, producer of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. Thank you so much for listening. Please don’t forget to like and subscribe and head over to to see all we have to offer.


Jill Farmer is an experienced physician coach who has been helping doctors live their best lives, increase their success, and move through burnout for well over a decade.

She has delivered keynotes, programs, and training everywhere from Harvard Medical School to the American College of Cardiology.

She has personally coached hundreds of physicians, surgeons, and other busy professionals to help them be at their best—without burning themselves out. Her coaching has supported professionals at places like Mass General Brigham in Boston, Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University in Chicago and too many others to list.

Jill wrote the book on time management for busy people. Literally. It’s called “There’s Not Enough Time…and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves” which debuted as a bestseller on Amazon. Her work has been featured everywhere from Inc. to Fitness Magazine to The Washington Post.

Nationally recognized as a “brilliant time optimizer and life maximizer,” Jill will cut straight to the heart of your stress to liberate you from its shackles. She has two young adult daughters. She lives with her husband and their poorly behaved dachshund in St. Louis, MO.

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