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Bedside Manner and the Project Manager
By Lonnie Pacelli

So we’ve all been to the doctor. We know the feeling of getting marched into a sterile examination room, given a gown that only covers the front half of your body, asked to step on a scale, prodded with a thermometer, asked to pee in a cup. Then there’s what seems like an eternity of sitting on an examination table with your hind quarters hanging out waiting for the doctor to come in the room. Then after what seems like an eternity the door bursts open and the doctor pronounces, “Hello, I’m Dr. Goofleblat… ”

For me the experience from that point forward goes either one of two ways. Dr. Goofleblat either wigs me out with an impatient, impersonal and indifferent attitude or Dr. Goofleblat treats me with an empathetic, caring attitude. Doctors who possess the empathic and caring attitudes are typically known to possess good bedside manner. Those who are impatient, impersonal and indifferent not only have poor bedside manner but also are viewed as pompous jerks.

I don’t know about you, but I much prefer the doc with the great bedside manner. My current doctor embodies great bedside manner attributes; she’s attentive, caring, interested in what I have to say, and very kind in her words. Because of her outstanding bedside manner, I am much more at ease with her and am much more willing to talk with her about my health and what is going on with me. It’s a great relationship and one that keeps me coming back to her.

The term bedside manner, though, isn’t just reserved for doctors. I feel very strongly that the best PM’s also demonstrate great empathy attributes particularly when dealing with business partners. A PM who comes across as cold, indifferent, and unapproachable to a business partner is far less likely to build and cultivate a positive working relationship than the PM who treats his/her business partner with empathy, interest, and respect. I’ve seen far too many PM’s not take bedside manner into account when dealing with business partners. The end result in every one of those situations was that the job was much harder and more stressful for both the PM and the business partner and the results achieved weren’t nearly as good as those where the PM showed empathy.

My one nugget to you is this: Think about whether or not you have good bedside manner with your business partner. Is your relationship one where you show empathy and caring for the business partner and his/her business? If not then take some time to think about how you can improve how you work with your business partner. Don’t be the impatient, impersonal, and indifferent PM that your business partner dreads dealing with.

Lonnie Pacelli is an accomplished author and autism advocate with over 30 years experience in leadership and project management at Accenture, Microsoft, and Consetta Group. See books, articles, keynotes, and self-study seminars at http://www.lonniepacelli.com

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