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Independents' Day

Career Coach: Relationships

Dr Mike Wyndham offers advice on maintaining good relationships with colleagues– and understanding how you relate to others in a work environment

• How critical is it that we understand ourselves, when we work with other individuals? Answer – essential.

• Do you know what will ‘press the right buttons' for you and what will ‘send you over the edge'?

• Have you ever assessed what type of individual you are when working in a team – such as challenger, leader, thinker, doer, supporter (Teams and Teamwork, by Peter Honey)

• Have you thought about what qualities your colleagues have and how you can get the best out of them.

• I wonder if we actually realise how many different groups of people we interface with in general practice: patients – old, young, male, female; administrative staff; nurses; doctors both in practice and hospital; pharmacists; dietitians; midwifes; and probably many more. Many have different cultural origins. What is the impact of this?

• Do you notice your staff or do you take them for granted? Do you ever compliment them or only feedback when there is a problem? How do you approach staff illness or bereavement? How do you celebrate a happy occasion?

• How prepared are you for the unexpected moment in a consultation, such as anger or tears? How do you deal with the patient with a ‘shopping list' and not offend them when you can't deal with all of their problems in one go? What will you do when a patient asks you a personal question?

• Older GPs certainly don't know everything but, as a young doctor, how prepared are you to cope with patient problems you know nothing about?

• When you refer patients acutely to hospital, you may well encounter doctors on call with less experience than yourself who may not have the same management approach or attitudes. How will you manage this situation?

• How good are communication lines to you? What is the message taking process for your reception staff? What process is there in place to communicate urgent or non-urgent messages to you? How will external colleagues such as pharmacists contact you? Do they have your direct line?

• How will you create change – for example, in a hospital or community service that is underperforming?

• Work is becoming increasingly intensive – where you do you find the time in your working day for ‘personal housekeeping?'

Dr Mike Wyndham is a GP in Radlett, Hertfordshire

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