Slow to Speak, Quick to Listen

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“Be Slow to Speak and Quick to Listen”

Are you tired of employees complaining about benefits?

Better understanding leads to better outcomes.

Is she really going to grumble about everything wrong with the health insurance? She has no idea how much time and anguish the HR Director and the owner went through to make this year’s renewal increase palatable. Maybe we should have followed the CFO’s lead and cut the benefits. At least now the employees get no increase to their payroll contribution for the upcoming plan year.


Not sure why I feel compelled to ask this employee if a plan with a lesser benefit would suit her needs better because it’s not like I can do anything this late into the open enrollment process. Nonetheless, I ask. She tells me that her husband’s company won’t let her enroll onto his plan unless there is no other coverage available to her. Now she is stuck with both her deductible and her husband’s deductible, and his plan is so much better than this plan.


I am getting quite irritated knowing that our client was facing a $75,000 increase to their health insurance costs. We shopped every possible option, turned over every rock and examined everything we could. Alas, nothing was better or more cost efficient than their current plan (we were able to reduce the increase to $25,000).


So, I tell her to be quiet, quit her complaining and if she does not like it, go somewhere else and find a better job with better benefits!  Okay, I did not really say that, but I sure was thinking it. Then something clicked from the best “business sermon,” I have ever heard by Andy Stanley.[1]


I say “business sermon,” because it is really life lessons for business disguised as a sermon… well disguised to some people. If you mention Steven Covey’s, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” in a sermon, is it a sermon or business? Habit 5 says, “Seek First to Understand, Then be Understood.”


This woman went on to explain a recent situation at the doctor’s office that was going to lead to additional tests, hospital visits, and then some more work. The office had an imaging lab and they required her to pay $2,500 upfront and then another $3,000! She did not realize that her plan’s maximum out of pocket was $4,500. Not because no one had told her, but because she had given up.


Every time she went to the doctor for her persistent cough, no one could figure it out. She was not going to keep going back and forth to different specialists just to be told there is nothing they can find.


Fortunately, a client of ours is a physician practice that does amazing, caring work. Was she open to speaking to another doctor rather than her current one? How would I know? I asked! She said yes and she realized that someone cared enough to walk through her problem with her.


I would like to tell you that she is better, her cough is gone, and everything is perfect in her world. Truth is we need to follow up to make sure she made out okay and did not hit another stumbling block causing her to give up again (stay tuned in future blogs).


What is most important is that my initial reaction was not my initial action. The lady was hurting and frustrated, rightfully so! The healthcare system was beating her down, so she was lashing out at everyone involved in the process.


She genuinely thanked me for helping her. Maybe I should have thanked her? She reminded me of what I already knew about having two ears and one mouth… that if I am slower to speak and quicker to listen, I can make a positive difference in someone’s life.

*Me & My Big Mouth, Part 1: Quick to listen, Andy Stanley.