I recently had the chance to spend some time in a place where no one wants to spend time…the hospital. I was not the patient but was there to support my mom.
During my time with her many hospital staff were in and out of her room. As one person said, “the daily parade begins at 5 a.m.” They weren’t kidding. Her caregivers, both men and women, spanned nationalities and ages but I was struck by their common characteristics. They were hard workers, moving quickly and efficiently while handling lots of details. More importantly, in the midst of all their activity, they were positive, upbeat and kind.
A sign in the hospital hallway read, “Kindness Helps Our Patients Heal.”
I sensed that this was more than a catchy slogan or platitude. Kindness was a cultural norm for this organization, woven into everything employees did, and visible in the way they interacted with each other. Like most cultural norms it began with the leadership, permeated all levels of the organization and sustained itself over time.
I talked with other patients and their families, they had the same experiences and observations as my family, and the manner and attitudes with which the staff worked absolutely made a difference in quality outcomes for the patients.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that there is an ever growing body of science demonstrating that kindness, compassion and empathy have a profound effect on healing. Neurosurgeon Dr. James R. Doty is the founder and director of a center at Stanford University that researches this exact topic. He writes:
This new body of evidence spanning psychology, neuroscience, and even economics reveals that as a species our default mode is not one of self-centeredness but that we are wired to connect and when we connect our physiology improves for the better. The good news is that kindness isn’t just good for patients. Neuroscience shows that acting with kindness toward others stimulates the reward circuits in our brains, so giving and receiving kindness has a positive effect on physicians and nurses as well.
There is a lot to think about in these three sentences and this doesn’t just apply to doctors, nurses and patients. We may not be in the hospital, but we all have pain, right? We all need a little healing today…
I encourage you to think about how this applies to your work and your life, and reflect on these important questions:
There was another sign in the hallway…
“Quietness helps our patients heal.”
Two things that seem to be in such short supply today – kindness and quietness. Never underestimate the importance of both. What do you need to do to bring them into your life and work?
I encourage you to incorporate stillness into your routine over the next week as it relates to clarity, kindness and quietness.