By Frank Ruelas
Facility Compliance Professional, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center/Dignity Health
Though we may not be asking the mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all, we can certainly appreciate some of what the mirror can remind us, even though we think we know the answer.
When the Evil Queen asked the Magic Mirror in the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the well- known question of who was the fairest in the land, she asked the question not to learn but rather to affirm. The queen had a clear expectation on what she would hear from the mirror. It wasn’t until she heard an answer that she did not expect, and I suspect did not want to hear, that there was someone else who was fairer than she which then causes the story to take its dramatic turn.
What question do we ask our own mirror on the wall? Do we listen for an answer with the same level of expectation as the Evil Queen on what we will hear? More importantly, how do we react or respond when we hear something that is totally unexpected or inconsistent with our expectations?
Now of course I am not implying that we need to go onto the website www.poisonedapple.com and order a bushel of apples that we will then distribute as needed to remove the unexpected or undesirable condition. Rather, hearing that which is undesirable or unexpected can actually identify an opportunity where we can work to push the needle on our compliance meter dashboard towards the favorable range, whatever that may be.
Perhaps the mirror we ask is represented by questions that we ask of staff. Unlike the Magic Mirror in the story that supposedly never lied, are we like the Evil Queen in that we ask questions which we already have a preconceived notion as to the answers we will hear? Should we not expect that there may be times that the staff will answer with what we want to hear instead of giving a more genuine response?
How about when we ask the mirror questions when the reflection we see is our own face? Do we ask questions of ourselves that provide us answers which reinforce our expectations or do we ask questions which give us pause to think and potentially realize that the answer we may hear is not what we either expect or wish to hear?
So instead of asking the “mirror” a familiar question which we expect to be followed by a familiar answer, perhaps we can take a lesson learned from the Evil Queen. Let’s ask our “mirror” questions with the understanding that if we hear an unexpected answer, we may actually be learning of an opportunity which until then we may have been overlooking.
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