the-highwireA physician’s communication style can dramatically increase the risk of serious error in patient care.  Simple adjustments in style can conversely reduce risk and liability.  The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson written in 1981 has sold millions of copies. It is still a gold standard of manageable ways to reduce work stress, empower workmates, improve efficiency and manage good communication.
One minute is the time it takes, according to Blanchard and Johnson, to do effective completion of many tasks, give praise to workmates and give reprimands when appropriate. In 60 seconds, a busy and harried physician can conceivably clear a piece of paperwork from his path by handling it only once and attending to it when it is first picked up.  This technique works for several reasons.  The paperwork does not pile up into a seemingly insurmountable and tedious task; quickly disposing of that obligation eliminates having that and other similar tasks brewing on the backburner to distract and ‘haunt’ you through the workday and if you have the inclination and time to pick up a piece of paper to inspect it in the first place, chances are you also can spare 60 seconds to process it so you don’t have to touch it again.
This philosophy is easily translated into improving communication, improving work relationships and de-stressing as you go through the typical workday or answer call.
Another technique described by Blanchard and Johnson is the one-minute praising.  Ending an exchange with workmates with 60 seconds (or less!) of appreciation for their contribution is a fantastic investment with high return.  Giving the details of why you appreciate them, and/or the current interaction, builds a supportive and cooperative work alliance that will, over time, become a valuable resource in further supporting you.
These 60 seconds also become ‘training’ for team members in which you teach how best to communicate with you and what decisions and behaviors of theirs best help you to do your work. Praise boosts morale and empowers others to operate with authority within their scopes of practice so that your own practice is complemented and better empowered.  This small investment will mobilize your available work resources, increase the likelihood that your need-to-know information is readily communicated and reduce risk and liability in patient care.  It is a minute investment for big pay-off’s in professional self-care and a sense of enhanced work related well-being
The third technique offered by Blanchard and Johnson is the one-minute reprimand.  There are times when reprimands are necessary.  Limiting this exchange to 60 seconds of a clear, calm explanation of the problem, as well as the corrective action needed, will greatly reduce your own stress, contain any emotionality that might rise in lengthier interactions and take that issue off the mental backburner where resentment and potential emotionality will simmer.  Taking 60 seconds immediately to address an error in a professional tone and to suggest a corrective plan again is a small investment in clearing the air, maintaining good working relationships and ‘teaching’.

Keeping in mind that praise is greatly enhanced in its power when an audience is listening and that reprimands are received much more easily and without resentment when care is taken for discretion will make those 60 seconds of communication even more potent, effective and empowering to your work team.

Anger Management Institute of Texas’ Executive Coaching Program is utilized by management of accredited hospital/organizations for physicians displaying disruptive behaviors in the workplace.

For more information please visit

“Anger Management Institute of Texas is a certified Anderson & Anderson provider.”

Gregory A. Kyles, M.A., LPC, CEAP, CAMF
Director, Anger Management Institute of Texas
Diplomate, President of Texas Chapter
American Association of Anger Management Providers

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