Do Starbucks employees have more emotional intelligence than your doctor?

 emotional intelligence

 

Peter Ubel, author of Critical Decisions, has an interesting post over at Forbes that asks that question. He mentions the training baristas get in customer service:

As described in Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, Starbucks employees undergo rigorous training in how to recognize and respond to customer needs.  They learn about what the company calls the “Latte Method” of responding to unpleasant situations (and really, would you have them call it anything else?).  The Latte Method involves: 

“We Listen to the customer, Acknowledge their complaint, Take action by solving the problem, Thank them, and then Explain why the problem occurred”

The result?  Baristas learn to recognize when their customers are exhibiting negative emotions and, more importantly, how to address these emotions in positive ways.

Ubel (a doctor himself) contrasts this with medical training:

we don’t even receive a fraction of the training that Starbucks employees receive about how to recognize and respond to people when they express negative emotion… doctors respond appropriately to patients’ expressions of negative emotions less than one in five times.

I’ve posted about how research shows medical school actually reduces empathy:

Three longitudinal and six cross-sectional studies of medical students demonstrated a significant decrease in empathy during medical school…

And the new book The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success indicates that surgeons are near the top of the list of professions whose members frequently show psychopathic traits.

Is there room in those barista training sessions for some medical students?

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About Eric Barker