Everyone is dealing with exhaustion. So in this episode, I share one non-strenuous thing you can do to promote health equity: pause and rest for a moment.
I’ve just been working with a great client in the health sector about diversity, justice, equity and inclusion across their organization. In this episode, I share one non-strenuous thing you can do to promote health equity. Really!
Hi everybody. I’m Dr. Anne Marie Liebel. This is “10 Minutes to Better Patient Communication” from Health Communication Partners, an independent health-equity focused education and communication consultancy. If your organization needs expert help on any topic in this series, visit healthcommunicationpartners.com.
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Organizations tend to come to me for capacity building, and it’s usually so they can grow, or have some other organizational change, while they are advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion. Looking back over this year, I think for me what was really surprising was, well, 2 things. That there are so many projects to advance equity at this time, right? These are different times and organizations are having to think differently. The ones that I work with are taking this seriously! Whether the big ones, little ones, in-between ones, they get that equity isn’t a fad. It’s not some thing over there that other people are taking care of. It’s part of everything. It’s everybody’s conversation and everybody’s role.
The other thing that’s surprising is that people are hanging in there! Those of us who are on that path, and many of us are–everyone is dealing with exhaustion. It can be hard sometimes, I think, just to concentrate on basic tasks. This is my inspiration for this particular episode.
In complete seriousness, I’m going to ask you to hit pause. Not on the show! I mean in your life. Step back from the moving freight train, just for a moment, and pause. Here’s five different opportunities where you might pause, and reasons why you just might want to take a moment.
All right # 1: pause before you speak. You’re super smart people. You’ve heard this one before.
Why pause before you speak? I’m going to focus on two reasons. One is to interrupt the common habit that many of us have of seeing communication as kind of an afterthought. The second: we’re not as intentional with our words as we like to think we are. To my mind, both of these are entirely understandable, and it’s how language works. I wanna let people off the hook. The answer for both of these is awareness. That’s why you want to pause.
If we want to challenge existing narratives, we’ll have to change our language. We don’t get better at changing our language without awareness. When it comes to our words, it’s remarkably easy to slip into autopilot. We ask same old questions, too. It can be difficult to step back and notice what we’re taking for granted. But I have two On Demand resources to help you do just that.
One helps you build critical awareness about your use of metaphors, and the other, about the subtle ways our everyday language can unintentionally disadvantage certain social or cultural groups. And links to those are in the show notes and on healthcommunicationpartners.com.
Okay #2: Pause instead of speaking. We tend to go into informing or telling mode super easy. Now a focus on giving good information is appropriate, but it’s easy to fall into delivery mode–especially in times of high stress.
Why pause instead of speaking? Well, when we start listening–really listening–to different people, we hear some of what we’ve been missing. In life, in our typical ways of working, maybe in ourselves. Now, you know your stuff. Listening to someone else, being vulnerable and a little humble, staying open even for just a few moments, doesn’t lessen your hold on what you know. It might even deepen some relationships.
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# 3: Pause before you make and send that invitation list. Whether it’s to a meeting, some online event, or something in person.
Why? If you want to get work done on big problems, you know it means talking to people outside your hallway. But it can be really easy to forget that in all of the hustle and the bustle. So I’ll invite you to remember who’s not typically invited to meetings or included in group chats? Try to be more intentional and thoughtful about who is invited. Maybe ask someone about the thing you know well, to help get another perspective–and help others feel appreciated and included. What person or group tends to dominate where you are? Who’s typically not heard from even when they’re present? Remember, everyone bring something to the table.
# 4: Pause before you make a choice or a selection involving people. And this happens quite a lot. Say, for example, in citations, right? An academic example.
I just finished up a manuscript, did the citations, and realized I’m citing the same people I’ve always cited! And most of them are white! What I haven’t been doing in my efforts to keep up with my field is notice who else is doing this work. Who else has been doing this work, citing similar theories and theorists, that are off the beaten path of my citations?
So I’m going to ask you to do the same thing, whenever you’re in a situation where somene’s either going to make the cut or not. Pause.
Why? Because it is so easy to go down our well-worn mental paths, especially when our bandwidth is low, like it is for just about everyone right now. “We’ve always done it this way.” That kind of thinking tends to perpetuate traditional advantages of privileged demographics—the Haves instead of the Have Nots. Now ask yourself, who have you included outside your norm? You might create some new connections, or strengthen ones that you have.
And finally: pause and do nothing besides breathe. Rest. Chill. Take a few minutes. Gather yourself. Close your eyes if you can. Turn away from the screen that you’re looking at.
Why? Lots of reasons, but i’ll give you two. When we’re in the thick of it, stepping back is a necessary step. This isn’t you not making things happen. This is you getting some fresh energy, having a chance to reset so you can take the next step. These are long paths. These are ambitious goals we all have for equity. We’ll get there, a step at a time.
And secondly, equity-oriented work is collaborative. And creating safe space for others starts with compassion toward ourselves. Now if you’re not already following The Nap Ministry (@thenapministry) on the social media do yourself a favor! It was founded by performance artist Tricia Hersey who insists that “naps are liberating” and “REST IS RESISTANCE.” She reminds us that grind culture is a trap and that you don’t always have to be productive.
Look, this episode is less than 10 minutes. You have a chance to rest right now! I won’t tell anyone. This has been “10 Minutes to Better Patient Communication.” Audio engineering and music by Joe Liebel. I’m Dr. Anne Marie Liebel.