Learning to Negotiate Effectively

Throughout medical school, I have enjoyed and actively participated in counseling patients about lifestyle changes, medication compliance, preventative care and other difficult issues. By implementing strategies of assessing readiness for change and instituting small changes, I had done a fairly good job in engaging patients to instill positive changes in their lives. Today,  I realized was that what I had been doing was negotiating with my patients. Negotiations are not easy, and I certainly fall short when negotiations involve finances, as I am less skilled in navigating this world than I am in the medical field. But I realized that these are vital skills that can be translated clinically. Paul Levy taught us today that we need to get past the positions and think about the underlying interests. This presents an interesting and effectual way for us to negotiate with our patients and to create value for them. We must always remember that every patient has a unique motivation and the only way to uncover these motivations and use them for the benefit of the patient is to get to know them as individuals and not just as “patients.” I have a long way to go with my skills as an effective negotiator, but I am grateful to have realized what an important skill this truly is and will continue to practice until I get it right.