I had a similar feeling when I went on a mission trip to Glendora, MS, on the Mississippi Delta. I had never been to Mississippi before, and had never been in the deep South. I had the privilege of doing health screenings on about sixty townspeople and got to hear their stories. When I returned to my very privileged world in Baltimore, I had a new appreciation for the plight of those living in poverty and for whom getting to a grocery store, or accessing healthcare is a daily struggle.
Why am I writing this as part of the work I do with healthcare leaders? In thinking about these examples, I am reminded of the many conversations I have with healthcare leaders where there are assumptions made of those “less known” that many times interfere with partnerships and collaboration. As a nurse, I’d often hear about “those” in pharmacy, or radiology, or environmental services. As I coach physicians, I often hear about those in “administration.”
How easy it is for us to judge when we don’t know, or worse yet, believe we know, when we don’t. During a recent course on Theory U (Otto Scharmer Ph.D), I learned about doing an “empathy walk,” which involves being curious and getting to know someone totally different than oneself. Imagine how your getting to know a homeless person might impact your perception of them? If you’re interested in doing that from a distance, watch this video.
My challenge to you is to improve your compassion and strengthen your ability to collaborate by being curious about, and listening to someone else’s story. Your life will forever be changed, for the better!