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Simple Ways to Make People Feel Seen and Heard

By Joey Havens

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How are you? question written under torn paper.

Today’s blog features the common situation of feeling invisible and insignificant and how easy it can be for us to help someone feel included, seen and respected.

The insights are provided by my friend, Ansley Pugh, a board-certified family nurse practitioner, from her experiences in patient care.

“As I was telling a family goodbye at shift change, the patient’s husband thanked me for acknowledging him. He expressed this was the most comfortable he had felt out of the three hospital stays for his children’s births. The husband continued to explain during the first two stays, most nurses didn’t acknowledge his presence. He described being at the bedside with his wife as awkward and uncomfortable as he felt invisible. It was heartbreaking to hear about his feelings at two of the three most sacred times in his and his wife’s life.

A wise nurse mentor once told me, ’It isn’t always what you do for someone that makes them feel cared for, but it can be as simple as the questions you ask them.’ She taught me to introduce myself to the patient AND the support person, as well as any new guests in the room throughout the day. She also taught me to always involve the support person when possible.

As I leave the room, I often ask the support person right after the patient if they need anything. 99% of the time, they say no, but as you can see through this husband’s story, just the question meant so much to him. I did nothing extra but ask him his name, maybe asked him a question while taking the baby’s temperature and asked him if he needed anything as I left.

The last tip I will pass on from my mentor is to always ask the patient near the beginning of the shift, ‘Is there anything I can do to make this your best day possible? Do you have any special requests or concerns?’ Again, 99% of the time, the patient says no, but the care is in asking the question. I hope the things my wise mentor taught me will inspire your readers to show care through their questions too!”

Thank you, Ansley, for sharing how we can demonstrate care by asking the right questions to make team members feel connected and cared for.

Just be careful who you ask certain questions.

“CeCe, how can I make this your best day possible?”

“Well, you can blow the driveway, clean your closet, organize the storage room, move your boat, put the garbage out for tomorrow, take your clothes to Goodwill, pick up my mother’s medicine and drop it off for her…”

I’m afraid CeCe is not going to have her best day possible.

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