Ask And You Shall (Usually) Receive

When I coach doctors on how to live their best lives, frustration and aggravation are often front-and-center on their list of grievances.

When we drill down to the core of what the problem is, it often sounds like this:

  • “My patients don’t show up on time/take their medication properly/cancel their appointments instead of just not showing up!”
  • “My staff doesn’t remember that Form A must always be used in patients diagnosed with diabetes.”
  • “My husband thinks I can come home after a long day in the operating room, then fix dinner and help our kids with their homework while he reads the paper!”

The response they expect from me is: “What?! How can that Be?! That’s so unfair!!”

But, guess what? That’s not what happens next.

Instead, we go deep and review what occurred just before each frustrating event.

Did they advise their patients the last time they were more than 15 minutes late without a good excuse that their appointments would be rescheduled for another day?

Did they give explicit instructions to their staff members and provide a checklist that each member is required to initial so that the importance of Form A is top of mind?

Did the harried married mom and surgeon find a non-harried time to calmly discuss with her husband how he could lighten her load during their evening meals and the kids’ homework time?

In most cases, their answers are no.

How can we ever expect to get what we want if we don’t ask for it?

Rather than ruing the errors and inconsistencies of others, why not ask for what you want instead?

Spell it out. Calmly. Succinctly. Just ask.

Look at it this way: When you walk into a department store and the clerk asks you what you are looking for, do you look at her and say, “Guess. I’m sure you have a good idea by just looking at me. And, after all, I come into this store every couple months. Just guess what I want.”

Of Course Not!

The clerk would think you had lost your marbles.

You would say, “I’m looking for brown socks, size medium, in cotton.”

And, the clerk would point you in the right direction and help you check out.

You have to let your people know your expectations. Very clearly.

Most of the time, although it is hard to believe, your patient/staff/spouse really want to please you. Not always, I know. But I believe they have the best intentions more often than you may give them credit for.

So, spell it out. Tell them what you want.

Write it down.

Calmly. With clarity. “This is what I need from you.”

The phrase, “Ask and you shall receive” can bring you peace on many levels.

Just ask.

CATEGORIES: Blog on April 21, 2014 by Starla Fitch, M.D.

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4 thoughts on “Ask And You Shall (Usually) Receive

  1. Susan Ortiz

    Great coaching, Dr. Starla. That is a great reminder to ask for what you want and need. It does not matter whether you receive it or not at first. The habit of formulating your desired outcome can be so powerful. Thank you for lighting the way.


    1. Starla Fitch, M.D. Post author

      Dear Dr. Ortiz,
      Thanks so much. I certainly agree that the habit of formulating your desired outcome is key. It takes doctors out of the reactive mode and into a proactive one.
      Take care and be well,

    1. Starla Fitch, M.D. Post author

      Thanks, Julieta. I agree completely. Keeping our focus on what is best for us and our patients is what makes great healthcare happen, don’t you think?

      Take care and be well,


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