The Business of Pharmacy Podcast™
April 10, 2023

The Power of Listening in Pharmacy Leadership | Brooke Griffin, PharmD

The Power of Listening in Pharmacy Leadership | Brooke Griffin, PharmD

In this podcast episode, host Mike Koelzer and guest Brooke Griffin, a pharmacist and professor of pharmacy practice, discuss the importance of soft skills, self-awareness, and effective listening in various contexts, including healthcare, leadership, and personal relationships.

  1. Self-awareness is key
  2. Use validated surveys
  3. Choose confidant carefully
  4. Repeat back words
  5. Be present always
  6. Focus on gratitude
  7. Say "tell me"
  8. Create intentional spaces
  9. Remember names intentionally
  10. Listen before speaking

Connect with Mike:








Loved this episode? Leave us a review and rating here:

Please support The Business of Pharmacy Podcast™ by checking out our sponsors at


Speech to text:

Mike Koelzer, Host: [00:00:25] Brooke, for those that haven't come across you online, introduce yourself and tell our listeners what we're talking about today.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: I'm Brooke Griffin. I'm a pharmacist and a professor of pharmacy practice at Midwestern University outside of Chicago

 A couple of years ago when I was a guest on your podcast I started my first blog called 21st Century Pharm d and that was a blog that was really focusing on content related to personal and professional development for students. 

What I found when I was putting out content I was getting feedback from not just student pharmacists, I was getting feedback from pharmacy professionals basically in all areas that they really liked this type of content and they wanted more of it. And, I was going along this journey and my own personal professional development and decided to become a coach and then, rebranded to, serve people in a different way and serve my profession in a different way. 

I've been really intrigued by the art and science of listening, and I gave a presentation at ASHP's midyear on this topic that was well received. So I'm hoping we can dive into that a little bit.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I was born into a world of sucking at listening. I come from a family of 12 kids and I'm the youngest boy. And when you're the youngest boy of 12 kids you don't get to talk very much. But any chance you get your, trying to get attention, you're trying to have things focused on you 

 I would say that listening to me, Was something that I knew I was going to be bad at because of my upbringing, and I knew I had to learn it and read about it and become a better listener.

And I'm thankful that my past is my past because I don't think many people think about this unless you came from a place where you knew you maybe we're not a good listener.

So with listening, who's bad at that and who needs to do better?

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: We're all on a spectrum, and I think for some of us, like you, Mike, who have this self-awareness to realize. I may not be the greatest listener, but I want to get better. What I like to tell people is that it doesn't matter where you came from or if you were a bad listener in the past. It's a skill that you can develop over time.

Like the other skills we talk about in personal professional development, it's like building this muscle over time. But you have to go in with this intention of wanting to be better. And the first question you can ask yourself in any situation, regardless of where you are on the spectrum of good listener, bad listener, is, how present can I be right now?

And that's with any patient, that's with your spouse, that's with your child. that's with a client. I mean, I can tell you that I think I'm a relatively good listener, but I can say that because my husband's. he might have a very different opinion 

Mike Koelzer, Host: Yes, yes.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: But, how I feel about my listening, I feel once I started diving into this topic and learning more about it, it's an art, it's a science.

You can get better. But the first question you have to ask yourself in any conversation is, how present can I be right now? And then be honest with yourself when you realize you can't because you need to be checking your phone cause you're expecting this text or this notification to come through. There's been so many stories that clients have told me about when they meet with their director of pharmacy and the director of Pharmacy is on their computer, typing away while they're trying to have this one-on-one.

And the director of pharmacy is saying, just keep talking. I'm multitasking. Just keep talking because the experts are saying and I'm speaking about Justin Treasurer, if you wanna look him up online, you cannot truly listen and do something else at the same. You cannot do both things at once. If you want to truly listen, it's a full stop of everything else. And how many of us are really willing to do that for another human?

not many. So again, where are you on this spectrum? Maybe you realize you're doing this with your trainees, your students, your residents. Maybe you realize you do this with your employees, but you're terrible about it at home. I had somebody come up to me after this talk and say, I feel like I am giving so much at work, and I am listening so much at work to my colleagues and my direct reports.

And then when I get home, I feel like I have nothing left. I have no more time or energy for listening to my own family.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Once in a while I'll try to attract the local press to the pharmacy to do stories on whatever to help a business. sometimes they don't send a camera person and a reporter, the camera person is often the reporter when they're looking for kind of b footage.

They've got the camera set up next to them. They ask you a question, but their question is not gonna be on the air. They just want your response so they can splice it in. had this lady about a year ago, and she asked me a question and right away then, . She started doing [00:05:25] something with the camera, or she was writing something, and she had an excuse for doing it and she was probably decent at it. It was hard as hell for me to continue the conversation, cuz at least people kind of fake it around me.

But she made no bones about it, that she was just off somewhere. And it was really hard to even get my sentences out, not because I was offended. It was just really hard to do it. 

Brooke, so pretend you're trying to sell, listening to somebody and they never really thought about it. What's yours? Sales pitch. Why is listening important?

Who does it help?

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: I would tell someone that 

Listening is leadership, and leadership is listening. You cannot be a leader today if you do not have some aspect of listening in your day to. And perhaps you are a leader of a team or an organization and you don't have time to meet with everybody one-on-one and hear their thoughts, or you're nervous about having a town hall because you're not sure how it's gonna go and what people are gonna bring up.

But you find workarounds to incorporate listening into your day. And that might mean who's in your inner circle that can give you this type of feedback from the front lines. knowing that you've got a leader who is willing to build in that time for listening, whether it's town halls or one-on-ones, or an open forum at the end of a staff meeting that's gonna take you places as a leader.

The other thing I would tell people, and this is another quote that I heard, this one's from Bernard Ferrari listening is the front end of decision. . And I really love this quote because I think it comes down to, I think it relates to small decisions that we make, and also big decisions that we make.

So small decisions, like, I would like to attend this pharmacy conference. I'm not gonna make that decision until I have a conversation with my husband and here are his thoughts about the time away and how we're gonna manage everything at home. I'm not gonna make this decision without talking to my colleagues.

How are things gonna be managed while I'm away from work? So you need to be able to listen to be the front end of that decision. But it also, Plays a role in these big decisions. You know, a lot of pharmacy corporations, academia included, are making really hard decisions about personnel and managing their employees.

 if you don't make time for listening before you make those big decisions, you're gonna end up with that huge morale and engagement gap that you don't want in the first place. But if you start the conversation early and say, I think we've got some tough times ahead, this is what's on my plate.

These are some ideas that I have. Tell me your thoughts. It's that buy-in that we've talked about forever in leadership, right? When people feel like they're part of the solution, they can accept that outcome a little bit easier. Doesn't mean it makes it rosy roses and butterflies, but,when the team, when you can engage the team from the beginning of your big decisions, that's gonna help you so much in the long run.

Mike Koelzer, Host: A lot of times in my past I pretended to listen because I knew it was something I was supposed to do as a boss or a manager.

And there was like no way in hell I was gonna change my mind. I probably shouldn't have opened that up to listening back then. Maybe I'm just a stubborn old guy, I wasn't going to change. One skill that I think is out there that I know I could have been better at is to listen, truly listen, understand what they're saying, but you don't necessarily have to make that move. And I suppose if the person who is talking, if they're offended, I guess that's their problem, because just listening doesn't mean you have to do it to prove you're listening.

You can just accept what was said but not necessarily change what you're going to do. Would that be fair?

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Yeah, I think you bring up a couple of good points because in healthcare pharmacy specifically, we spend a lot of time talking about how to listen to patients so that they feel heard. And when you think of all the healthcare professions, I feel like we get the most training in communication and motivational interviewing, which has components of active listening there.

And we know the benefits of active listening in healthcare. Patients feel heard, they have more buy-in for their healthcare journey. It actually has been shown to increase adherence and follow through with some of the healthcare plans when a patient feels heard. That's really well understood in the medical literature, and we've got.

Science to back that up. But when it comes to other relationships, we tend to not think of it in the same way. Like, what if we just paid that much attention to the people that we're speaking with? And your, the second thing that your story reminded me of is I once had a leader that was really against having open forums or having, time on the staff agenda to, have people freely speak their [00:10:25] mind or to ask people for their ideas, because exactly to your point, they were afraid they were gonna have to act on every single one of those ideas or somehow implement.

To make all of those people happy, and that's not the point of listening. The point of listening is so people feel heard, it's an invitation into somebody's world, and that's what you want as a leader or a friend or a spouse. You want to build that safety and trust so that they're able to share whatever's on their mind so you get an idea of what people are thinking.

That's the gold. It doesn't mean you have to act on it. You can even start your conversation or your meetings with that. Like, I'm not gonna be able to implement everything that's brought up today, but I would love to hear the themes. I wanna hear what's on your heart. I wanna hear what's on your mind. I mean, that's how you move an organization or department or a committee forward award.

Mike Koelzer, Host: There's value in somebody knowing that they've been listened to. Even if nothing may come of it, besides the listening, There's something that says you've kind of respected me or opened yourself up, human to human there's a value there, even though it may not lead to anything.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: You're absolutely right and active listening also fuels inclusion, which is on top of our minds in all of our organizations. Now. We want people to feel more included, and that means listening to other people's lived experiences and their stories and how it might have been different from our own. I also love another quote by Justin Treasure: your listening is unique, which I love to think about. We don't all listen in the same way. He describes these filters that we have to our listening, which is our values and our upbringing, and our experiences, and our expectations and our intentions, and all of these filters.

So that's why when you're in and somebody shares a story, somebody is gonna pick. their struggle and how they overcame their struggle in the story. And someone's gonna pick up, well, how much money they made after they overcame the struggle. we're hearing different things because our filters are different.

So our listening is totally unique, and I think that's important to keep in mind because as leaders we may not be picking up on the stories in the same way because our upbringing was different. That's why when we talk about younger generations, why, we did it this way, we coped this way.

We didn't have X, Y, and Z. Why? Why is the younger generation struggling with it? But we're coming from a different place.

Mike Koelzer, Host: So Brooke, I'd call listening kind of a soft skill. Are there any as important as listening? 

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: They're all related, but I would say number one is self-awareness. So recognizing one's own values and strengths, what they bring to the table, what their blind spots are, and then wanting to actively work to improve those. So for example, if you are in a place where you are getting regular feedback from your customers, your employees, maybe even you did a 360 degree feedback evaluation, there are some people that look at those evaluation results and say, I don't know where this is coming from because I communicate really clearly.

so they're saying, I'm a bad communicator. I don't know where this is coming from. There were only five people in the survey. it doesn't sound valid to me. I'm gonna disregard those results and they don't. Take the time to think about, well, where could this be true? Is there any possible truth to this? I may not be the greatest communicator and then, or listener, or whatever the feedback shows, and then want to work on that.

So self-awareness is huge. So I would say that is probably the number one soft skill.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Through the years we've taken those assessments of yourself, and like what mental illness do we have and all that kind of stuff. Me and my family, we would tend towards anxiety and o c. if, if we have any of the illnesses, it would seem to be more in that category. So you go down these columns or these yes, no columns, and they say how many points for this and that, and you'll go down like a column that you know is talking about narcissism or something, one of 'em will be like, I'm the king of the world. And now, you Mark, no, no, no, no, no. And you're like, what kind of person could write yes to these things? And then you go down the ones of like, maybe depression. You're like, boy, I wrote no to most of these.

 Whoever writes yes to these must be in pretty rough shape, And then I'll go down, like the column that I know is trying to pull out, like anxiety or O C D you know, do you like to be orderly? Do you do this? And I'm like, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

And I'm like, any average human should be doing all this kind of stuff, but it's as. Absurd for somebody who's not in that category to look at that and say, why would you do this stuff? you're really caught in your own columns and, it's hard to listen that that may not be the norm.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Yeah. And you've gotta make sure you're taking a validated survey and it's not some random survey on the internet. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: Not like out of a Red Book magazine from like 1982 that's sitting around the cottage, right?

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Right. Right. So that's number one. But [00:15:25] then also, I think that's what's so powerful about wanting to work with a coach, is that they can point out some of these stories and patterns and thoughts that you've been having for such a long time that may be influencing. How you're looking at the world, what expectations you have, how you're answering surveys, how you think this column is not gonna apply to me, but this column is.

So it's having someone else kind of point out a different perspective on who you are and how you're showing up in this world. And then to, help you figure out who you want to become and help you get there.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I think also, you gotta be careful who you're choosing to really listen to you. Someone has said that we men like to solve things. I don't know where that came from, but, you know, people like to solve things for you, or they like to say, don't worry about that, that's not a big deal.

they're gonna one up, you,it's hard to trust, besides being a good listener, it's hard to trust. Who should be the receptor of you sharing a bit more?

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Yeah, you are totally in control of who you share your stuff with. And one thing you can do is start your conversation by saying, I had a really hard day, and all I wanna do right now is just.

And, you usually give great advice, but I'm just not ready for that right now. I'll probably come to you tomorrow or next week, but I just need to get this off my chest.

Is that okay with you? And let the person answer. and if they're not ready, if they're busy, if they're multitasking, let them say that and say, now's not a good time for me to hear your 


or if you know that there's someone that you may have ventured with in the past, but then they tend to be multitasking but that's a judgment that you can make.

You're in control of who you share your stuff with and when, but you can start the conversation to help. , establish the expectation of what outcome you're looking for. Am I looking for advice? Am I looking to just vent? And that's something that we as parents also do for our children, right? When they come to us with their stuff, we can say, thank you for sharing.

Are you looking for some advice right here? Do you need me to call somebody or are you looking just to get this off your chest and let the child tell you what they're really looking for? Because in all cases, I could have predicted they would've 

said something different, like, no, please call my teacher right away, or, no, I just need 

to get this off my chest.

Mike Koelzer, Host: When I heard about a similar device, I told a friend about it. I remember specifically saying, look, I don't want you to solve this for me. You probably don't even really agree where I'm coming from, but I just need a human just to absorb this.

And there's sure a difference there too, Brooke, because, There's something about us humans that has this need or a desire to share yourself with somebody. And sometimes it's just talking and somebody looking at you and nodding their head, and the person may not say anything.

They're just absorbing what you're saying. But you wouldn't get that same feeling talking to a doll, nodding their head. It's a weird thing that when you voice something to a human, it changes something in your own head.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Yeah, when someone can hold space for you. I mean, that's priceless. I mean, it's the greatest gift to give to somebody. It's just to be there with them in whatever it is. A time of triumph, a time of need, a celebration, a bad day. I mean, this human presence is powerful. And when there's no distractions, when you know this person is just there for you, there is something powerful there.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I've done the thing where you. Take a win to the person who would be about the worst person anybody would say to take this to. like, if I brought something to you, Brooke, I know you'd listened Or if I brought it to somebody else, I know they would listen. Instead I go to some person that half the time doesn't seem like they're listening and half the time maybe they do, and you are almost like torturing yourself. but I guess sometimes we want that challenge because if you go to the person that is too good of a listener, they might not challenge you.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Well, I think it's an interesting point because sometimes we go to people because they're, they 

are our cheerleaders and whatever we say, they're gonna say, that was amazing. Great job. You're great at this. You're the best. Keep going. And we need those people in our lives. Sometimes we intentionally or unintentionally choose other people to share our wins with, too.

Try to validate, was this really a strong win? Because my cheerleader always tells me it's good. So how do I know when it's not really good

Mike Koelzer, Host: exactly.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: So you almost want Joe Schmo to say, huh, that was an interesting idea, or why would you do it that way?

So you're looking for someone supportive, but who's willing to give you some [00:20:25] objective feedback, right?

Some of that constructive feedback that you're looking for. And that's, again, the onus is on you to start that conversation by saying, I always come to you, you always say, what a fabulous job I do. This time I'm looking for where my holes were. Where could I have done a little bit better? And that's your challenge to them.

Are they even willing or capable to give you that type of constructive feedback? It's kind of like a test. and if they can't, then they're your cheerleader and they stay in that cheerleader bucket 

until you find the person that can do both for you.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I've gotta fess up here.

Sometimes I know that I've gotta be a better listener. Sometimes though, where you're in the pharmacy and you're doing something and Mrs. Smith comes in and you're saying the right words, Yes, I understand. That's a good point. you're repeating some of the words they say, and this and that, and my mind, who knows where it's at, 

I'm not listening a lot of times, but I know the skills and. That can't be good. 

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Sometimes in a busy pharmacy, we've got a lot of things going through our head When a patient is trying to talk to us.

I mean, we're thinking about all of the things, all of the other patients on our schedule are in the queue. The phone calls we have to make, the things we have to do, what we're gonna cook for dinner at home, like there's just a CNN ticker of stuff going on in our brain. But we can also take a minute to be there for Mrs.

Smith. And if you're repeating back some of the words that she's saying, I would argue you are listening in the moment with her. 

We're just skilled at having the CNN ticker in the back of our brains. But, you can also make a choice to try to drown those out if you could, to be more present with her.

But it sounds like what she's coming to you with doesn't require a full stop 

Mike Koelzer, Host: I guess not. My wife says to me though, like, I'll be kinda mirroring what she's saying and things like that. She's like, stop that. I know you're just mirroring me. And I'm like, that doesn't mean I'm not listening, but she just knows that I've got the skills from the pharmacy, but I'm probably not really listening.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Well, I think it's great that you want to do better, Mike. I think that's a great first step, and we've got lots of leaders in pharmacy right now who just have no clue that they're at the low end of this listening spectrum. so I think I will go back to step one, how present can be. in this conversation.

And just be honest with yourself. If I like, I wanna check my phone while they're talking, that's okay. How present can I be? start to put away your distractions. think about that voice within that's coming up. What can you do to quiet it? Kind of put those thoughts away. Like, I'm not gonna think about dinner right now.

Right now is my time for so and so. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: I think that, the hearts part about being present, and I'm not just talking for listing, but just to be present with somebody and

I don't think that this is a valid reason to not be present, but I think this is what happens when you get people, especially people in my column, of anxiety and things like that. When you get that and you get someone like me who is maybe an active non listener, pretend like I'm listening, but I'm not, when you're in the present moment,

you say to yourself, and this is not right, but this is what I do, you say to yourself, alright, this moment I'm safe enough because no calamities had hit me. And if you put yourself back in the caveman days, I'm like, all right, I'm safe. There's no tigers trying to attack me right now. I'm safe enough.

 So don't spend any more time thinking about this moment. Let's jump ahead in your mind where maybe you're not so safe in life, but here's the problem. That doesn't work. You can't multitask n. and put yourself now and in the future because you're not really with someone.

You're just pretending. You're not absorbing, you're not listening, you're not being who they need you to be. And I'm not saying you can do it a hundred percent, be present, but instead of spending like 10% here pretending you're listening, and then like 90% thinking about the next hour or the next day, you can be like 70% here.

 Think a little bit about the past, a little bit about the future, but we're not faking it well when we're not present.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: We spend a lot of time thinking about the past and thinking about the future, 

It's just part of the human experience. We just spend a lot of our time in those two places, and what the experts recommend is to just keep reminding ourselves that all we have is this moment. 


Mike Koelzer, Host: A lot of times you think, well, I'm not doing anything else up there. I might as well think of this problem. Or at least your brain thinks that. 

But I try to spend time trying to work on [00:25:25] gratitude, saying, okay, this is good. I can walk, I can swallow, I can talk all through your day.

And I find that if I mention to myself, like 50 of these things a day, then when that one problem comes or that thing that I wanna kind of ruminate on, now, that thought is only 2% of what I've been thinking through the day, because the other 49 things have been thoughts of gratitude. It truly matters where you focus

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: I think the whole point is recognizing. What are the patterns that you're seeing in your thoughts, and what thoughts kind of come up when you're trying to listen to another human?

And can you compartmentalize and say, now's not the time to think about how to fix the sewer? I'm gonna think about that later, because right now I'm listening to Sally's story.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Brooke, what other ways does somebody improve their listening?

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: One of my favorite phrases is, tell me.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Me

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: So attempt to use this more in all of your conversations. So instead of jumping right in with a piece of advice, instead of jumping right in with what you would've done, instead of jumping right in with a question, just say, tell me. 

more. Because there's always more

you might hear something that they wouldn't have said the first time.

It might add more context. It will help them feel more heard, all the things that we're trying to accomplish.

Mike Koelzer, Host: It's funny using that because I remember one person in particular where if I were to use that on them, or even question what they were saying, they kind of got. Defensive almost until they trust you. They're like, what do you mean more? I just told you what the hell I was talking about, kind of thing.

when someone knows you're trying though, because there's a lot of different listeners, there's listeners that wanna attack you and listeners that truly wanna know more. So if they're not used to it, it's hard for them. It's hard for someone to spend time with someone who's really trying to listen to them.

They're not used to it.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Yeah. Yeah, that's why when you find this trusted person in your life, it's so key. It is a gift. So when you're using it for the first time, a phrase like, tell me more. And let's say it's not, that level of trust is not there yet. 

It's just not established yet. But you do truly wanna get to know the person and a little bit more about them.

Just pick something out of what they said. That's interesting. I've never heard it mentioned like that before. Can you tell me a little bit more So it's not a generic vague, tell me more. I didn't really get what you were saying. I'm not sure I'm totally on your side. That's how it may feel.

But if you can pick something over the story and then add this context, like, I would love to learn more about that. Can you tell me more about that new car or that car buying experience?

You can add a little bit to that phrase, especially if that trust isn't there,

Mike Koelzer, Host: One thing that's been fun for me is this podcast because I wanted to do a few things different from most podcasts. And so one of the things I have not liked in podcasts, and let's say that Brooke, you and I are talking and you just shared with me that 10 people in your family were wiped out by an earthquake. You heard that with relatives in Turkey. It's like my whole family got wiped out. Anyways, you'll hear these podcasts and the host will say, oh, that's so sad. Uh, tell me about your last vacation to Disney World kind of thing.

You know what I 

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Yeah. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: questions lined up and so something I do on this show is I don't line up a single question all of my questions have to come from what I heard from you at that moment. So I don't even know my next question before you say this. answer, and I've done that on purpose because I want the show to be connected in that way, kind of to go almost through a storyline yet.

Not a story obviously, but have it all connected. I have the pleasure of that here because I can edit stuff out. I can stall, we can talk behind the scenes and things like that. and it's really hard to do because when you're with somebody, like at work, for example, and let's say there's a competition there, not an explicit competition, but you know, there's a power struggle there or something like that.

It's hard to go into a conversation really open. But it's fun. It's fun to just really be present enough to have the conversation truly move along without having these preconceived things. It's harder than hell though, in the work setting.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: I mean, that's awesome to be able to riff with somebody and make a podcast episode without any pre-planned questions. I mean, I would challenge your thought that your, active non listener.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Well, here I can do it, Brooke, because , hopefully my guests are intriguing. I'm not gonna invite somebody on here that I think is boring. I'm not gonna invite somebody on here that I think I've heard it all before. I've got my time kind of set aside here for this. A lot of things are going [00:30:25] right for me to listen well here, and I think we both can kind of smile at that knowing that's not real life.

Because in real life you have a millionaire things going on, and so you really do have to get your skills up and really practice that.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: If you wanna do this well at work, you have to create the spaces for it. So it's not gonna be a sidebar when we're both working the bench. When we've got a thousand things going on, the phone is 

ringing. You have to create these spaces intentionally, and the leaders who do that are the leaders who will succeed.

Mike Koelzer, Host: That is so true because I had this guy at the pharmacy, he was harder than hell to talk to, and I probably was selfish. I probably didn't take the time or want to spend the money to spend some time with this person, 20 minutes a week or whatever to have some chit chat time.

but you could always find something to do at work. You'd always be around the corner grabbing something or this customer's waiting, things like that. So I think that right there if you have a place conducive to that, but as we know, it's hard in a pharmacy, or I could say it's easy in a pharmacy because you can always have an excuse to not have a good conversation.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Yeah. I mean, there's excuses everywhere. I mean, we're also strapped for time. We've got so many distractions. looking at your phone alone, there's so many things that are trying to catch our attention. But if we think about the other spaces in our lives that listening becomes a little more naturally, like a patient will go see a physician about a potential mental health or anxiety issue, and the physician might be able to prescribe some meds, but they may also refer them to a counselor or a therapist for the other work, which is, a lot of it is listening, and a lot of patients say that this is their safe space to listen.

We do this with our families. we're going with our families, but if we don't take the time to sit around the table and say, how was your. . and that's why those dinners are so important. That's why vacations are so important. That's why going on a one-on-one date with your child is so important.

So you have that. You're creating these safe spaces. You're creating this intentionally because you know that's so important to your family unit. That's so important for your healthcare. So why aren't we offering this for our employees in some way?

Mike Koelzer, Host: My family of 12 kids. I came from, my dad worked a lot of nights and stuff, and so my mom would put like, what do you call it? Like a pot, not a pot roast, but like a beef stew or something. She'd put that out at like three 30 in the afternoon. And we were just, it's kind of sad now, but I guess you did what you could do, but we just ate one by one, from three 30 to 10 when finally everything was gone.

We never really had dinner time and that, and we do now, my wife and I and my kids, we have dinner every night, and , a really cool thing. I'm glad we're doing that because I didn't do it as a kid

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: But I'm sure, or maybe not. Were there other moments that you 

Mike Koelzer, Host: you had, 

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: time to connect?

I suppose, I suppose, Dinner's an example, but it doesn't have to be a meal.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I suppose, I mean, you look back, you always could have done better do you have siblings?

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Yeah. One, one sister, one brother.

Mike Koelzer, Host: You get along with them.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Yeah. Yeah. They both live in Massachusetts, so I'm the only one here in Chicago.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Oh, you're away a little bit.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Yeah, I'm away. Yeah. But no, we all get along. which is great, but you know, I mean, our parents did the best that they

could. We're doing the best we can, and 

Mike Koelzer, Host: That's right. 

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: are gonna be talking about us.

Mike Dub: We've talked about listening. Let's talk about other communication skills 

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: So it was actually Dale Carnegie who said that a person's name to him or her is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

So remembering names. It's actually interesting when you look at the data, hearing your name actually activates a certain area of the brain that's very similar to your core identity and other kinds of personality traits.

It kind of lights up the same areas. And, there was even a case report of someone who was in a persistent vegetative state, and when they heard their name,different things lit up on the brain imaging just by hearing their name in a completely vegetative state.

So what can we do about it? Because this is something we hear from everybody that I'm terrible at remembering names. A lot of people, as soon as they meet somebody, that's the first thing they say is, oh, I won't remember it

anyway. .I mean,

What a weird thing to say after you just meet somebody.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I had that gal. It was last year at a wedding. The first thing she said was, I'm terrible at names. I'm, I didn't even challenge you. I didn't say, what's my name? It's like you came out with that before even faking it.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: right? So what I suggest is just stop making excuses for it. Stop. And that's the first thing you do is stop saying, I'm terrible at this. I am bad at this. And start again. Being intentional about wanting to improve. And there's a couple of different things you can do. Acknowledge it. Number one, this is an area improvement for me.

Just like we talked about while listening. Try to commit to remembering a name. Challenge yourself to remember the next five people's names of the people you meet. Practice it a lot. So every time you see that person, you're finding a way to use it in conversation. Even if it seems silly or weird, the [00:35:25] person won't think it's weird.

and if you're meeting someone, but you know you've met them before, say your name first. Like, oh, I'm Brooke. I think we met last year. They'll automatically come back with their name, and then when you're on a phone call or in an email with somebody, just try to use their name more regularly. Infuse it into the conversation.

It We could all do a better job at remembering names and it's so meaningful 

to the person.

Mike Koelzer, Host: people love it. You'd be surprised at how much people love their name. 

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: And if you can remember the pronunciation.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I think where people really forget names is when I run into you and I say, hi, Brooke. And you say, hi Mike. And you say, this is my friend. Sally. Okay. You and I talk for a little bit. Rarely does somebody say, Brooke, nice seeing you, Sally. Nice to meet you. Rarely do people do that because they don't trust themselves.

They say, I don't know if her name's She said it like 90 seconds ago. I don't remember. Here's my trick. What I will do is as soon as I hear that name of Sally, I am picturing a Sally that I know. Like Sally Fields? Then I can say, Brooke, nice to see you. Sally. Nice to meet you. The reason I can do that is because I'm thinking of Sally Fields, it's like, of course her name is Sally. Why the hell else would I be thinking of Sally Fields right now?

So you make that connection. Now, it's not long term. It goes away in a minute, but I don't think those are the stresses of learning a name. I think it's right in the moment when someone introduces you. Come back 60 seconds later with that name by thinking of somebody you know with the same name.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: And if you Google how to remember names, you're gonna come up with a whole lot of other ideas too. But nobody does it because everyone just accepts, I'm terrible at remembering 

Mike Koelzer, Host: It's hard. You've gotta practice it and if you knew how much people liked it, you'd spend some time working on it.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: . Yeah. Like your name is so powerful. If we're in a really crowded room and you heard your name, you can hear that sound out of a really crowded room. But when someone, you've only met once or twice remembers your name, 

wow. I mean, you just feel, you feel special.

You feel remembered.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Yes you do. I've got a little pad too that, well, notepad, it's in my phone, but Google Keep. But like, I've got a section for maybe our cottage neighborhood and if you meet somebody and you can just jot down, you know, bill and Martha, someone you met, so then when I know I'm gonna go to the cottage for the weekend, or I know I'm gonna go to a pharmacy function, I can pull it out and I say, well, at least I remember these eight people. You have confidence in that. people like it. 

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: It's important they feel heard.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Feedback. are there tricks to give it and are there tricks to receiving it without thinking you're gonna knife somebody after you heard it?

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Yeah. In terms of giving and receiving feedback, this definitely relates to listening. And I think the challenge with at least giving feedback is that we're not really comfortable giving negative or constructive feedback, especially if we have some of these constructive things to say. I mean, we haven't really been trained or taught how to give feedback.

Oh, we want to be liked, we don't want the other person to feel bad. Like there's all these background noises going into wanting to give feedback. and so the important here, the importance here, when you're giving somebody feedback, you really wanna think about it as an opportunity. To listen and you can't really listen if you're too busy talking.

And a lot of us spend our feedback sessions spending most of the time talking and not enough time listening. So there's a couple different things you can do. You can think of the 80 20 rule where when you're in a feedback session, you really should be doing 20% of the talking and 80% of the listening.

And that may sound like a lot, especially if you have a lot of things to say. But that's the whole point. You've got a laundry list of things that this person should be working on, but you need to spend 80% of your time listening to what their thoughts are around that. What are their goals? What motivates them, what's important to them?

The other trick that some people use is the post-it note that says, wait, W A I. Why am I talking? Especially on virtual calls, you can have that right on your laptop. And just as a reminder that when you're talking too much, why am I talking? I should be spending less time talking and more time listening.

And the other thing I like to say is when we treat feedback sessions as a presentation, then we miss the conversation. And I remember doing this as a new faculty member. When I had to give constructive feedback to a student, I would write out all my bullet points. I would have my rationale just in case they got defensive on something and I would treat it like a presentation, like I was giving them this stuff to work on and leave very little room for what they were thinking about that feedback.

And so I totally missed that conversation. So when we treat feedback sessions as a presentation, we miss the converse. . so what you can do [00:40:25] is again, start with being in listening mode. How present can I be at this moment? How willing and open I am to hear whatever they have to say. And you really wanna think about starting with curiosity.

That's what these feedback sessions are about. This is your. impression of how they're doing. These are the outcomes that you're seeing that you're not pleased with, that you want them to improve on, but there could be a reason for their behavior. There could be a reason for this outcome. And we come in with these assumptions because that's not how we approached work.

That's not how we approach punctuality. That's not how we approach performance. but we really need to be open to what they're thinking and what's going on behind the scenes for them. And then asking them a ton of questions. What's in it for them? What are their goals? What motivates them? What support do they need?

Again, we assume that people are fine with two weeks, p to o and this, e a p therapy program that we have, and that they're motivated by a raise. That could be completely true or it could be completely not true. we have to be open to hearing what motivates them. And then summarizing this meeting, I've talked to many leaders who they'll come out of a meeting and say, 

Mike Koelzer, Host: say,

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Yeah, I think that went really well. I explained everything and then I'll talk to the other person 

and they have a completely different understanding of what happened at that meeting. So you as the organizer of the meeting or the leader, have to be the one to summarize 

it and say, is this what you heard?

Are we on 

the same 

Mike Koelzer, Host: That is so counterintuitive to what you'd think about with listening because you think that you'd listen, like we talked about, and then when it's time to give feedback, that's your time to talk. But let's say you have a list of like 10 things you want to talk to them about.

If you listen right away, I bet most of the time you are gonna wipe off those. Nine things because they're so related. a person might tell you right off the bat that they feel stuck in life or whatever, and then you're saying to yourself, it's like, no. Okay, well now it explains 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

That explains it all just by listening to them where you could go through all those and you wouldn't see the connection between all of them unless you listen for a while

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Yeah. And you have to listen first. It's that front end of

decision making, the front end. So here's another example. I was once mentoring another faculty member, and we were going to meet with a student because the student wasn't performing well, and didn't show up to a couple of things at school.

And,no show, no call, no email. And so it was a required thing and we had to talk to the student. and, the faculty member I was mentoring went right in with what the student did wrong. How that's not acceptable. These are the consequences. This is how it could impact your future career. This is really detrimental to your professionalism and your professional image.

And then at the very end said, is everything going okay at home?

Mike Koelzer, Host: Right,

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Think about how that landed with the student. Are they gonna feel ready to share with you that their car broke down and their mom is sick? And, they're the breadwinner for the family. So going in with that curiosity first, but we treat it like a presentation that, we're gonna lay down the law, the land here, and this student needs to shape up or ship out.

But we do this with our employees too. It's not just with students, but we wanna come in with this curiosity and build this safe foundation for them to be able to share whatever they want. Cuz you're absolutely right Mike, that's gonna answer a lot of my other questions.

If they just start right off the bat with telling me what's going on.

 I was just talking with a leader the other day. The group staff meetings weren't going well. People felt attacked. They weren't on the same page with the vision and they were having a hard time. leading this group towards a shared goal. So their response was, I'm canceling all meetings. We're not gonna meet anymore. And what we talked through was, what they probably need is more listening.

They probably need more time, maybe not as a group, cuz that seems to be a little dysfunctional right now, but some one-on-one time. So can you create that space where they can feel heard on a one-on-one basis before you bring everyone back in a group? So there's probably pockets of everybody's life, mine included, where I want to be a better listener, I want to improve, I wanna use my device less.

So I would just encourage 

someone to think about 


Mike Koelzer, Host: area 

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: and start 

Mike Koelzer, Host: start this. 

 Brooke, thanks for joining us today. I think I do okay, but I'm sure if you talk to my wife and kids, I'm probably the worst listener in the family, but I got a lot going on

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: we all do Mike. And is that just an excuse?

Mike Koelzer, Host: an excuse. So I'll work on it. I'll work on it. Brooke, thank you. That was fun. good stuff, I don't think that we think of that enough, but we're doing it all day. We're either, Talking or listening, so we might as well do it right. So great information, thank you. and we'll look forward to following what you're doing.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Thanks so much for having me, Mike. I really appreciate it.

Mike Koelzer, Host: All right, Brooke. We'll talk again soon.

Brooke Griffin, PharmD: Okay, bye. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: [00:45:25] you.