Business Body Language and Surgery – They Intertwine for a Positive Experience
by Barbara Chatzkel
As I walked to the admitting office at St. Joseph’s Hospital/Barrow Neurological Institute last week at 5 a.m. for Gamma Knife® brain surgery, the last thing on my mind was business body language. My brain was working hard to keep a positive focus, but the overwhelming scariness of being out of control in this critical situation took over the calmness I had hoped for.
As soon as I began to interact with the hospital staff, I was able to breathe and some of the fear subsided. What was happening here? Business body language had come to my rescue. It was amazing that the nonverbal messages emanating from all of the staff were stronger than the “out of control” sirens going off in my head.
Even before I arrived at the Gamma Knife Center, I was surrounded by smiles, relaxed postures, and purposeful movement by a variety of people who all appeared engaged in their work.
Getting on and off the elevator was another experience in positive business body language and collaboration. It was evident that, as the patient, I came first, and an extending arm always offered us the elevator first. I believe these were shared staff decisions, and if there had been a patient needing quick transport, we would have been the ones who stepped aside.
As we moved from Pre-Op to the Gamma Knife Center, I knew things were getting real. The staff could sense that I was very stressed, so in addition to their reassuring statements and asking if I had questions, their body language conveyed much more. They always made direct eye contact that lasted for the whole conversation, bodies leaned in toward me, and I received many caring touches on the arm and shoulder.
While I couldn’t see anyone’s feet during these conversations, I am sure they were pointing toward me, another indication that I was the center of their attention. Though I went in for a medical procedure, I took away a sense of calmness, competence, respect, and collaboration from the body language of the staff.
I must have interacted with more than 20 individuals, from the admitting staff, the wide range of nurses, the chaplain who assisted in witnessing my living will, my nurses (3 of them!), the anesthesiologist, the physicist, and two very special people – Dr. Brachman, my radiation oncologist, and Dr. Nakaji, my neurosurgeon. There was laughter and joking – I can now be legitimately called a “numb skull” – but we all knew that what was happening was serious stuff. Each one of them played an essential role, both professionally and in the way their body language sent messages of calmness, professionalism, and caring.
So how were more than 20 people able to seamlessly deliver complex business body language messages of caring, professionalism, and compassion? I believe that each of them chooses the specific work they do. Additionally, the values of the organization reinforce dignity, collaboration, stewardship, and excellence, each of which I saw displayed multiple times throughout my stay.
- I am grateful and fortunate to have access to such outstanding medical care for my recurrent meningioma.
- Business body language sends very powerful messages that can affect the recipient’s behavior or emotions.
- Watching a team seamlessly work on a complex task and observing their complementary business body language is a thing of beauty.
- Business body language is a strong communicator of the organizational culture. It tells the whole story.
END NOTE: I am home and recovering from the Gamma Knife® surgery and hope to resume my regular activities within a couple of weeks.
Barbara Chatzkel’s ability to provide a vibrant and behavior-changing book extends across industry segments – everyone uses business body language. Her coaching and consulting expertise on business body language grew from conducting union negotiations, managing difficult personnel situations, managing at multiple levels, and extensive business coaching experience. Her new book, Business Body Language: Your Visual Business Card, will be available in print in early 2016. Visit her website today for further information.