The Power of Role-Reversal in Developing Empathy

John Wenger writes a compelling article about the importance of moving beyond empathy — “standing in each other’s shoes” — through role-reversal. Empathy is not only a core leadership competency but an ability required for healthy relationships in every dimension of one’s life. Seeing through another’s eyes, getting into (not under) some else’s skin, and walking in another’s shoes is essential if we are to truly optimize healing healthcare and the patient experience. I hope that you will enjoy Wenger’s article, especially as many around the world call to mind the day when God became flesh, fully embracing our humanity to see and live like us in every way. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Read “Beyond Empathy.”

quantum shifting

As a sociatrist, I’m passionate about people in business developing greater ability to stand in each others’ shoes.  It’s one of the cornerstones of the work we do at Quantum Shift and is central to nurturing greater health in organisations.  This is often given the name “empathy”.  I bristle a little, however, when I hear someone say, “I can have empathy for them, but…..”  What’s that expression?  Everything before the “but” is bulls**t.  I go along with Professor Simon Baron Cohen’s idea that empathy sits along a spectrum.  I also go along with Martin Buber’s suggestion that the point on the spectrum at which we start treating people as objects is when we are capable of cruelty.  At the same time, I would extend this to say that we can go beyond empathy and develop the ability to role reverse with others.  There is an embodied knowing that comes via…

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Employee Perception about Customer Experience and Business Performance

Studies clearly show a direct correlation between employee engagement and satisfaction and customer (patient) experience. The happier and more engaged an organization’s culture the more likely the organization’s customers (patients) are satisfied and loyal to that organization. Bruce Temkin in his blog “Looking at ROI of CX Through Eyes of Employees” shines the spotlight on yet another connection between employees and customer experience. Temkin concludes that, in the eyes of employees, better customer experience equates to better business performance.

Customer Experience Matters®

We are always looking for ways to understand the connection between customer experience and loyalty. Here’s a new approach, analyzing employee perceptions.

We asked a random sample of more than 2,400 full-time U.S. employees to compare their company’s customer experience as well as its financial results to the organization’s competitors. As you can see in the figure below:

  • 76% of CX pacesetters financially outperform their industry and 6% underperform
  • 19% of CX laggards financially outperform their industry and 23% underperform

CX leaders are more than four times as likely to financially outperform their competitors.

CXvsBusPerformance_EmployeesThe bottom line: Employees can see the value of customer experience

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What Aspects of Hospitality are Most Important to Patients?

Dr. Gallan’s blog “Hospitality in Health Care” rightly urges health care executives “to consider the differences between hospitality and health care before they fully commit to implementing important changes.” While the physical environment — cleanliness, pleasantness, comfort, way-finding and navigational ease and intuitiveness, places to rest and relax, etc. — is important and often the focus of hospitality initiatives in other industries, Gallan points out that the goals of hotel guests and patients are different. In a study “Hospital(ity) Issues: Attitude Towards Hospitality in Hospital Settings” conducted in the Netherlands, the authors found that patients ranked personal attention and approach by hospital staff as more important aspects of hospitality than accommodations and facilities. Gallan cites other similar studies and conclusions. Ultimately, the authors of the Netherlands study conclude — and I believe Dr. Gallan would as well (if I read his blog correctly) — that “a truly hospitable attitude in healthcare requires a meaningful translation of traditional hospitality and a shared understanding of the concept of hospitality in hospital settings.” Therefore, health care executives will do well to consider the importance and priority of quality interactions between caregiver and patient when reflecting on hospitality in a hospital setting.


Our guest editor this week is Andrew S. Gallan, PhD who is an Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing, Driehaus College of Business, DePaul University, Chicago, IL, and faculty research fellow at the Center for Services Leadership at Arizona State University.

Recently I’ve noticed an increased emphasis among health care leaders to pay homage to the trend of incorporating lessons from the hospitality industry (for a great example, see With an increased focus on the importance of patient experience, many health care leaders appear to turn outward for successful examples to emulate. This is a sound logic, as much of the improvement seen in travel and hospitality (think Ritz Carlton) can inform a thoughtful health care executive in improving metrics on patient experience.

For instance, much research has been put into creating physical environments that are pleasing to customers, including colors, scents, and physical cues such as signs and queuing prompts…

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“The Power of We” Is Critical for Optimizing Healing Healthcare

John Wenger’s article “The Power of We” reminds me of the critical importance of eliminating a siloed and episodic approach to care and services in healthcare that not only negatively impact patients and their families but also the caregivers providing the care and services. Studies show that seamless and coordinated care and services have several and comprehensive benefits: improved patient satisfaction and safety, better communication and clinical outcomes, and improved staff and physician morale and satisfaction — just to name a few. To help optimize healing healthcare, hospitals and other healthcare organizations will do well by considering the reflection questions posed by Wenger in his blog that invite us to consider our purpose and mission (read: improving the health and wellness of the communities we serve). With this purpose and mission, we rediscover our common and shared purpose and “the power of we!” With “the power of we,” services, units, offices, departments, jobs, titles, and pay grades matter less than those whom we serve, and we’re reminded that each one of us is the patient experience.

quantum shifting


Interesting what can spark an idea and create insight.  Staring at the full moon the other night, I found myself marvelling, yet again, that we’ve been there.    That led me to consider the languaging: “We’ve been to the moon.”  We?  We’ve been there?  In fact, from Armstrong to Cernan, only 12 white American men have actually set foot on the moon, yet we often include ourselves in this achievement.  It is notable that this landmark is considered to be a milestone in human achievement and so we talk about it in collective terms.  It came about after JFK set a vision and “we” went along with him.  A vision.

There are other achievements that you’ll hear people include themselves in.  We defeated Nazism.  We eradicated smallpox.  We developed penicillin.  How did we manage this?

So what happens to us when we go to work and lose this ability…

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Daphne Nash: Patient Experience: the extended version

In this blog, As Daphne Nash highlights the great example of a physician who was thrust into unfamiliar territory due to Hurricane Sandy that gave her a renewed appreciation of what it is like for patients and their family members to navigate the “foreign land” of a healthcare system, organization, and delivery process. Excellent article and insights that when taken to heart can help all of us as caregivers in the process of optimizing healing healthcare.

Kathy Cuff & Vicki Halsey: Customer Service – 3 ways to make someone’s holiday a little brighter!

The small/little things do really make a difference! In this blog, Kathy Cuff is one of the principal authors – together with Vicki Halsey – of The Ken Blanchard Companies Legendary Service training program share three simple (small/little) ways to make someone’s holiday a little brighter. In the end, and as I recently wrote in a blog published by Hospital Impact, the decision to SERVE others begins with the desire to see/look, hear, feel, etc. through the eyes, ears, heart, mind, etc. of others, the empathy that connects us to what we see, hear, and feel, and the choice to put the heart’s empathy into action. As I recently tweeted, “Compassion is our heart’s empathy in action” and is a core competency necessary for optimizing healing healthcare.

Blanchard LeaderChat

Brother's help about shoelaceAs we enter into the holiday season, I always remind myself to try and be on my best behavior and keep my patience while out doing my holiday shopping.  So when I read the story about the New York City police officer who used his own money to buy a homeless man a pair of shoes and socks, it reminded me that in the busiest of times, we ALL need to take a moment and look around us and see where WE can provide a random act of kindness.

Customer service is just that—SERVING others to make their day a little brighter, a little better.  Create a memory, a story, a moment that someone might tell someone else about.

Now, I am not suggesting that we all go out and try to do something for someone else just to get on YouTube—that certainly was never the intent of that…

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4 key ingredients for creating an exceptional patient experience

Whether maintenance man, physician, housekeeper, nurse, pharmacist, receptionist, social worker, valet, OT, PT, food service worker, patient care tech, etc., we are the patient experience and transform the ordinary into the extraordinary by bringing together the four key ingredients outlined in my latest blog published by Hospital Impact.

Read more.