The biggest challenge facing my clients

The biggest challenge facing my clientsOver the years, I’ve identified the single biggest challenge that faces my clients when they come to me for support: overwhelm. They’re all intelligent people with great health communications skills in their own right.

The problem is that when you’re firefighting 20 different projects, with a head full of internal politics and a diary full of meetings, it’s hard to step back and:

  • see the bigger picture
  • reflect on your organisation’s own practice
  • set the priorities
  • find the interesting angles
  • talk to the people whose stories need telling
  • recognise what you’re already doing brilliantly.

In recent years, I’ve increasingly found myself acting as a sounding board and collaborator alongside the healthcare and communications professionals I work with – brainstorming ideas and then coming up with some simple actions to move forward.

In anthropology, we talk about two perspectives for understanding a situation: ‘emic’ (seeing things from the inside) and ‘etic’ (seeing things from the outside, looking in). A good ethnographer will do a little bit of both.

I’ve borrowed this approach to combine an inside understanding of people’s frustrations, fears and challenges with a fresh perspective and an understanding of the wider health communications landscape, to produce clarity, calm and – often as not – a big sigh of relief.

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