Earlier this week, I gave a a free live webinar on communication in multi-sector collaborations, in conjunction with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and the Region 2 Public Health Training Center.
What do I mean by Building BRIDGES?
BRIDGES is a working metaphor, and much more. BRIDGES is what I’m about. BRIDGES is the fundamentals of what I do. BRIDGES is my structure. I explain it in more detail here.
Here’s the summary of the webinar. If you missed it, I’ll post the link to the archived video as soon as it is up. Again, I’m grateful to Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Region 2 Public Health Training Center for making this possible.
At the end of the webinar, the audience submitted some questions. Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about some points I would like to re-iterate, and some additional information I’d like to share. So here we go!
We began the webinar by considering our own assumptions about multi-sector communication, and about ourselves as communicators.
I have learned that, across and within fields and sectors, that no matter what your job has to do with health communication, you want your words to make a difference.
You want your words to matter.
Often, people I’m talking to feel that their communication isn’t working. Something’s going wrong, or they aren’t making the difference they want to.
Where you’re coming from matters
As I’ve talked with health care professionals about communication and culture, it’s been great to hear a high level of awareness about the importance of seeing the other person’s perspective. This is essential.
But it would be missing half of the picture. Cross-cultural communication implies there’s at least two sets of culture going on here, right? The other person’s and…yours. Yes, where you’re going matters. So does where you’re coming from. You can’t help but speak from your own position. From the blend of the personal and professional cultures you’re a part of.
This podcast episode is about the easily-overlooked first step when you need to communicate across difference. And it’s something you can do on your own.
Your thinking about yourself as a professional matters
One viewer asked for advice as an early career public health professional. Over the last few days, I have thought of so many things I would like to tell that person!
Here’s a few:
- Keep reflecting. The Building BRIDGES webinar was my way of inviting people to reflect on their work, and on themselves as professionals.
Reflective practice is a broad umbrella term that covers many different understandings of and approaches to reflection (and practice). In Educating the Reflective Practitioner, Donald Schön explains why reflection is important:
[T]he problems of real-world practice do not present themselves to practitioners as well-formed structures. Indeed, they tend not to present themselves as problems at all but as messy, indeterminate situations. Often, situations are problematic in several ways at once. These indeterminate zones of practice—uncertainty, uniqueness, and value conflict—escape the canons of technical rationality. It is just these indeterminate zones of practice, however, that practitioners and critical observers of the professions have come to see with increasing clarity over the past two decades as central to professional practice. (p. 4)
What I shared in the webinar is what I share in this podcast episode: a key tool in reflective practice. Namely, questioning or problem-posing as a way to begin to investigate and address the ‘problems of real-world practice.’ It’s one of our all-time most popular episodes!
- I would also like to give that early-career viewer some advice for communicating with their new colleagues!
It’s not news that difficult and deep-seated challenges benefit from collaborative efforts. The pooling of knowledge and resources also helps reduce time wasted to duplicated efforts, and helps under-resourced groups.
We know it takes a village. We know none of us is as smart as all of us. Still, the challenges are real. There are personal concerns, interpersonal concerns, and institutional concerns when it comes to interprofessional communication. In this podcast episode, I dig briefly into each of those three.
Your assumptions about who you’re communicating with matter
A few of the questions I got at the end were about the people on the receiving end. Not us, but them. Those people.
Now, this webinar is Part 1, where we focus on ourselves. Part 2 turns to those we’re communicating with. But I really liked the questions about the ‘other’ because they helped me bring home a point: the assumptions we hold about others matter. So even though the questions were about ‘them,’ they were about us, too.
This podcast episode shows that how you name and define ‘normal’ has an impact on how you perceive those you’re talking to, and the work you’re doing together.
Continuing BRIDGE building in multi-sector communication
My next webinar, Part 2 of Building BRIDGES, is coming in September. Here’s a preview, thanks to one of the last questions I was asked!
It was about working with folks whose values differ from ours. Big, big topic.
Your expert knowledge means you know enough to find the sense or logic in people’s ways of making sense of the world. In other words, it’s part of your job to see where people are coming from.
Your task then is to understand your client’s or patient’s understanding. That’s what this podcast episode is about.
If you’d like me to come help your organization build some BRIDGES, fill out the form below. I’d love to help.