I was recently in a doctor’s office, and he related to me that he is suffering from “provider burnout.” Sadly, this is something that is becoming more and more common among professionals in all types of service-based industries. Is this a new epidemic or just the result of a more common and easily fixable problem? I think it may be the latter, and here’s why.

During the time with the doctor, he went on to explain that the stress of dealing with complaining patients has become overwhelming, not just for him, but for virtually the entire office staff and most of the other physicians in the practice. Fortunately, in my experience, I’ve learned that there is something that can be done to correct provider burnout. It boils down to communications skills training.

The Importance of Active Listening

In many instances, the issue is not the complaining patients, but the way the doctors and medical staff are dealing with the communications. This is something I commonly come across when working with professional teams in my “Reasoning with Unreasonable People” course. As I teach those who come to me to help relieve the stress initiated by complaining patients (or in general ‘unreasonable people’), the medical staff needs to learn how to listen first, before getting defensive and reacting with anger, frustration and anxiety. Instead of automatically assuming the patients are simply ‘complaining,’ they needed to change their mindset and learn to listen to what the patients are saying, at which point they can more effectively process the information and ultimately better serve the patients. It is a win-win for all – a less stressful staff and happier patients too.

Provider Burnout for Financial Advisors

As financial advisors, you will face the same provider burnout syndrome if you do not learn how to “actively listen” to your client’s fears and frustration. The next time the situation occurs, rather than defensively getting irritated when your assistant tells you that Mr. or Ms. so-and-so is on the line, learn to take a moment to listen and then process the information they are giving you. In my book, The Financial Advisor’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide, I write about ten toxic personality types to eliminate from your practice and how to communicate with the rest. You can grab a free chapter of the book here.

If you avoid phone calls or office visits by unreasonable clients, I strongly suggest reading about how to handle these folks, which will remove much stress from your life and help you avoid provider burnout.