“We have a million budget shortfall and it’s our fourth meeting sitting around having a lovely intellectual discussion! Angry (leaning in, clenched jaw or fists) looks very different from discouraged (dropping eye contact, slumping) or dismissive (rolling eyes, turning away).
Ask questions: When you see or hear the emotional layer, stay calm, keep your tone level and ask a question to draw them out and get them talking about values.
We get stuck when we only focus on the first two — emotions and facts. When someone starts yelling, for instance, you might think he’s mad (emotion) because his project has just been defunded (fact).
And many managers stop there, because they find feelings uncomfortable or aren’t sure how to deal with them.
If mistakes are found, you should make a new adjustment entry to correct the financial problem (see last month’s article titled Correct Posting Errors on Payments in History).
But when the error involves procedures that are in history, you must maintain accurate clinical records by first invalidating the incorrect procedure, and then posting a corrected, back-dated procedure, and finally, making an adjustment to the patient’s balance for the procedure amount.
Listen: Listen carefully to the response, both to what is said and what you can infer about facts, feelings, and values.
You will pick up emotions in language, particularly in extreme words or words that are repeated.
The key is to have a discussion that includes facts, feelings, values.
People will feel heard and the emotion will usually dissipate.
When you find posting errors in the Ledger, particularly those items already in history, you cannot simply delete them and reenter the information. The Ledger is a financial record of posted procedures, payments, and patient balances that is used to print statements for patients and to bill insurance.
You want to make sure that the information you print doesn’t change after patients leave the office.
This outdated notion is one reason people resort to passive-aggressive behavior: emotions will find their outlet, the choice is whether it’s out in the open or in the shadows.