The Strength of Humility
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The Strength of Humility

There is no respect for others without humility in one’s self.”
Henri Fredrick Amiel

Humility. A word that seems to have gone out of fashion; too often seen as a sign of weakness or lack of confidence. But is humility an archaic value? Or is it a valuable trait that has been disregarded by a culture in which it’s “all about me”?

Humility means having a modest opinion of one’s importance or work. It means not thinking of oneself as superior to others. While in today’s world, people generally don’t like letting others define their value and contributions, I have to wonder–if I am truly making a difference in the lives of people around me, should I need to tell others how valuable I am?

Recently I attended a class on improving my communication with patients and staff.  Improving the ability to truly hear and connect with patients, families and each other is essential to gaining trust and improving outcomes. Humility also plays an important role in communication. One tactic is managing up, an approach that has us putting others first. Simply put, managing up is saying what we value about an individual, department or unit, giving recognition to behaviors we want to reinforce. Want more smiles? Compliment someone who is smiling.

A humble person is willing to listen, rather than talk. As Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., of the UCSF School of Medicine says: “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen.  Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and connect than the most well intentioned words.

The beauty of humility is that it creates space for others to contribute.  When we display humility we allow the following to occur:

Humility should not be seen as a sign of weakness. Leaders who take pride in what their team or department accomplishes, rather than stressing their own accomplishments, promote good will and harmony. Those who ask questions, learn. Those who listen, communicate their caring more effectively.

I welcome your comments below.

Categories: Caring and Empathy, Change and Transformation, Patient-Family Engagement


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