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3 Sticky Healthcare Stories : How to Communicate Effectively

 3 Sticky Healthcare Stories: How to Communicate Effectively


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                                    A friend of my friend is a frequent business traveler. He has to travel all around the world. Let’s call him John. He was in New Orleans for a business meeting. After the meeting, he had to travel to another city. He reached the airport but his flight was delayed. 


                                    To pass time, he went to a local bar near the airport. He met a beautiful lady in the bar who was also all alone. Our guy was average looking. The beautiful lady approached him and asked if she could buy him a drink. He was surprised and flattered. Never in his life, he felt so lucky. Today was his day. 

 
                                    The lady brought back two drinks -one for her and one for the guy. He was immensely pleased and he thanked her and took the first sip. Well, that was the last thing he recalled.


                                   He finally woke up, feeling feverish in a bathtub of the hotel room. His body was submerged in ice and water. He tried to figure out what was happening to him. He was having a headache and was feeling dizzy. Maybe he drank too much? 


                                     There he noticed a note lying near him. Please don’t move. Call  Emergency number 911. His mobile phone was near the bath table. He picked up the phone and called the emergency number. His hands were shivering. The operator seemed OK with the call. In a calm voice, she asked "Sir I want you to reach behind you and see if there is a tube protruding from your back". With trembling hands, he reached to his back. He found a tube protruding from his back. He told the operator in affirmation. The operator told him not to move until the ambulance arrives with paramedics. One of his kidneys has been stolen. This is common in this part of the country.


                                      The above story is taken from the book "Made to Stick" by Chip & Dan Heath. In this book, the author discusses why some ideas take hold and stick. Some positive ideas do not stick and just move out of the brain. Chip Heath is a Professor of Organisational behavior in the School of Business at Stanford University. Dan Heath is A Senior Fellow At Dukes University. They conduct an online course on the subject as well.


                                  This Kidney story is the one that sticks. We can understand the story and recall the story even after a long time. In today's information age you are bombarded by information. Our brain gets distracted. Many good ideas don't stay in the brain However few ideas do hold strong in the human brain. Many fake news stories are traveling on the internet. Negative and ghastly stories travel fast on the internet. The human brain is attracted to such stories.


                                    You must have heard this story or some other kidney racket story. The human brain becomes alert when he hears the word kidney. Being a healthcare professional I am aware of this acute kidney problem. One of my relatives sent a message asking if it's true that doctors in Mumbai have falsely labeled a person as having COVID 19 Infection just to remove his kidneys and other organs. A Whatsapp post was being circulated in the country stating the same. It's very common when a patient is undergoing some abdominal surgery he /she asks: Are doctors going to remove my kidneys also?. One friend of mine came to see me. My friend's brother warned him to be careful. You are going to see a doctor. He may trick you and remove your kidneys.


                                 The media understands this very well. The Kidney stories run on front pages. People add spices to the stories. This is because certain ideas stick in the human brain. One of them is the Kidney Story. Usually, the source is some friend's friend or a distant relative last seen 10  years back. The idea of organ donation takes a backseat and such stories occupy public imagination.


                                   How to nurture ideas so they succeed in the world. Good ideas often have a very hard time succeeding in the real world. The world is filled with false notions and wicked stories. Many healthcare professionals struggle to communicate ideas effectively. Good teachers find it difficult to keep the attention of the students. A Science teacher explains to the class of 100 about DNA structure and after a week only 3 students vaguely remember what it is. Many times the CEO of the company fails to convince his employees about the new useful strategy. Governments struggle to convince people regarding the value of their programs.


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                                 Every language has its proverbs and fables. You must have heard the story of the Hare and Tortoise. How the tortoise won the race is well known. Another famous story that's very popular universally is the story of the sour grapes. One Summer afternoon a fox was walking through the garden. He saw a bunch of ripe grapes high on the grape wine. He jumped and tried to reach the grapes. He failed. He ran a few paces behind and took a fast run. He jumped even higher. Still, he missed. He tried again but still could not reach. At last, he gave up. While returning he said loudly: "I am sure these grapes are sour". 


Image of Tortoise
Tortoise Swimming in Sea

                                 These stories have been told from one generation to another. This story was written by Aesop. According to history, he was a slave who was later freed. He authored some of the stickiest stories in history. His other well-known stories are "The Goose that laid the Golden Egg", "The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing." 

                                   These stories were written 2500 years back. Imagine we remember stories that were written so many years back but still cannot remember what was taught in the class 2 weeks back. Those who don't remember the story still know the meaning of sour grapes in English. The stories evoke concrete images. We human beings think in pictures. Visualization is the mental imaging of a story or a proverb. We create mental images of the words that we hear. Have you heard the proverb: "A Bird in hand is better than two in the bush"? Did you notice the concreteness of the images? We need more concrete messages today to convey good ideas.

                                 One of the biggest failures recently has been to convince people to wear masks. This problem is seen across the globe. A lot of Americans refuse to wear masks. The same is true with Europeans and Indians. Same people when board a plane meekly wear seatbelts without asking any questions. How many people have survived a plane-crash if they were wearing seatbelts? 

                                  Wearing masks has been documented to stop the virus from spreading. Still, many people refuse to wear masks. This includes well-educated people. Maybe health care professionals and governments should devise a sticky idea to convince people to happily wear masks.      

 

                                  We need to convey the message in more concrete terms. Like wearing a mask every day will keep the doctor or Ventilator away. If you are getting any concrete ideas feel free to write in the comment box. Some countries have imposed fines on people not wearing masks. Still, people are not convinced. The cheapest way to treat this pandemic is to wear masks. It saves you and your family from further trouble. Still not convinced? We need another modern-day Aesop to write some new stories or proverbs that will stick.

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Diabetes Communication Book
Made To Stick Book


                                       I was listening to a debate on France 24 English Channel. They were discussing the COVID epidemic in India. One person said the response of the government was very faulty. Another person argued differently. He told the anchorperson about the enormous problem that the country was facing differently. He said the population of India is equal to the population of the United States plus the UK plus European Union plus Russia plus Australia put together.


                                       These all are developed countries. In contrast, India is a developing country with poor health infrastructure. Indian Government spends far less on the healthcare budget than the United States or Italy. Yet the mortality in India Is far less than in the European Union or the United States. India has far fewer ICCU beds than other countries. This brought a different perspective in the debate. His argument showed that the Government has put incredible efforts into fighting the disease. He also brought in the open the enormity of the problem by showing a credible comparison. He gave a credible and compelling argument.

                                      Some of the ideas in this blog are taken from the book "Made to Stick" by Chip & Dan Heath. If you want to read the whole book you can purchase from Amazon by clicking on the link of the book on the right upper corner of the blog. 

                                     Whether you are a teacher, parent, healthcare professional, media person, salesman, or businessman you need to communicate in a better way. This book will help you in communicating good ideas more effectively. The cost of the book is around USD 7 $ in the United States. In India, it is available for Rs 434. The book is crisply written and only about 300 pages. It's a good weekend read.

                                     We will be very happy to hear from you. Feel free to post your feedback in the comments section. You can sign up to receive our emails for free.






  


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3 Sticky Healthcare Stories : How to Communicate Effectively

 3 Sticky Healthcare Stories: How to Communicate Effectively         1                                       A friend of my friend is a fre...