Bedside Manners Matter: What Act of Kindness Will You Do Today?

The other day when I was catching a flight home from a business trip, I had a surprising experience. Passing through the security checkpoint I spontaneously said, “Hello, how are you?” The security officer looked at my information and said, “Fine, you can go through now. Have a nice flight”. I responded, “Thank you. Have a great day”. He looked at me and a broad smile came across his face. He said, “You know, you are the first person who asked me how I am and wished me a nice day. Thank you”. This came as a shock to me. “Did you just come on your shift?” I asked him. After all, it was only 9:45 am. He responded that he had been at work since 5:30 am. Wow, more than 4 hours and no one had bothered to take the time out to appreciate him as a valued person contributing to our society and ask him how he is or wish him a good day. This made me think about where our civility is and what prevents us from showing up with kindness and respect for others who are doing their job to serve us?

Do not get me wrong, I recognize that I could easily have been one of the masses who inadvertently took him for granted and forgot to connect with him. Why or when might I do that, I thought?

Some reasons we forget our bedside manners:

  • Tired
  • In a rush
  • Hungry
  • Distracted
  • On our cell phone
  • Plain rude (I hope that is not the real reason, but I certainly have been on the cell and it is rude while going through the line.)
  • Taking people for granted (This is rather obnoxious.)
  • I am better than you approach (Better check the ego at the door and show a little humility.)

These are just rationalizations for our suboptimal behavior. The bottom line is that Bedside Manners Matter always. We are not in the business to pick and choose when to apply them. Each and every person we come in contact with daily deserves our civility. We need to treat people the same as we wish to be treated, I thought.

Ways all people wish to be treated regardless of geography and culture:

  • Respectfully
  • With full appreciation
  • As valued members of our society
  • As people worthy of our connection
  • With dignity

I realized by his comment that my pause to quickly comment about him as I was moving through the line had increased his well being and decreased the stress of his job. Something so simple allowed me, Dr. Karen, to empower this person to be more serene and enjoy his job more. This little act of kindness and civility had spread sunshine on his daily routine. Interestingly enough, it also added so much to my day. I felt great knowing that I had served him as much as he had served me. He actually had shown me that through my choice of sharing a few words with him as I went through the line I contributed to making his day at work more worthwhile. He felt like someone cared about him. We are not numbers and it is always nice for someone to address us personally and make us feel like they care. Interestingly enough, by his speaking his appreciation of my comment I also was made more aware of how important it is for me to bring my bedside manners with me wherever I may be. It was a good reminder.

How can we make a difference in another person’s life?

  • Show we care
  • Communicate effectively
  • Listen carefully to body language, tone, pitch, words and spaces
  • Give of your time as an extra minute can save a lot of time later by decreasing resentment and frustrations that escalate in our mind. It reveals we deem another worthy of our attention.
  • Display Bedside Manners in all contexts.

Manners always matter and can make a difference in people’s lives and health outcomes physically, emotionally and spiritually. I challenge you to join me and help make someone and their day better. We all can “doctor” each other and spread more harmony throughout. Each of us can make a difference in our own life and in the lives of others. It is our choice. What will you do today to enrich someone’s life? Think about it and then act on it.

For more tips, contact me.