One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to snorkel. Recently while in Kauai Hawaii, I began to realize the similarities between the two. Even if you don’t like or have never snorkeled, or don’t like to be in water, I bet you will agree with these possible connections. It is only when we do go deeper with patients that we find the treasures and where behavior change happens.
On the surface everything looks the same.
Each time you go out snorkeling, things appear to be the same, nothing new. From the top surface, everything is just water. Once you start exploring and swimming, the whole world opens up. It is amazing. All of a sudden you find yourself face to face with new marine life. In one day, I spotted three new forms of life that I had never seen before: Yellow headed moral eel (not dangerous), Black Sea Cucumber, and an Aloloi, a beautiful black fish with a large white spot on either side.
Just like the people we serve, on the outside everything looks and sounds the same. Same chronic health issues as the last patient I worked with. Same issues around personal healthy boundaries as the last time I talked with this parent. This is often true when we begin our introduction and welcome with “How are you doing?” What response do we get? “Fine?” What does “fine” mean? As we know, “fine” often has many different meanings and usually the response “fine” is a surface answer. There is so much happening deeper than the surface response of “fine.”
Often, we don’t feel we have the time, desire, or the skills to ask the next question and explore what fine means with our patients. It is only when we do go deeper that we find the treasures and where behavior change happens. Go ahead and ask that next engaging question, go deeper.
To really see the marine life, you need to be all in.
You can be standing up in three feet deep water and not see anything but water. It is not until you put on your snorkeling mask, and go fully into the water, when you see fish, coral, rock and sand. It is easy and often common to look at the water from the top surface and question if there is really anything worth putting my gear on and getting wet for. And, each time the answer is yes. There is always something amazing that happens when we go all in. We have to go into the water to see the amazing marine life.
To understand our patients and clients, we have to be all in to their story, their why, and what really matters to them. We have to dive into their life with an open mind and heart. We can’t assume we already know their story; we need to dive right in, heart and mind, line and sinker.
Slow down while snorkeling and when being with patients.
Once in the water snorkeling, you still may not see anything unless you slow down and stay open to what you might see. Slow down so you can see the small details. Stay open without judgment and expectation. You can’t go in looking for something specific, you have to stay open to what the ocean brings to you. For this to happen one needs to slow down and stay open.
We find treasures with patient conversations.
This is the same as health coaching. A person may seem like just another patient with chronic health issues, a parent with out of control life boundaries, or a client who needs to begin to make changes, but once we start talking with them, we find the treasures, the reasons, and the story. Staying open and listening helps us partner with others more effectively and saves time.
As you can see, there are several similarities between snorkeling and health coaching. Dive deep below the surface conversations with the individuals you serve; be all in mind and heart; and slow down to see and find the treasures. You will find greater connections, more rewarding relationships and perhaps more effective outcomes.
Transform Conversations. Transform Healthcare. Transform Lives.
Dr. Becky Lang