Crucial Conversations and Listening

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Angie McDonaldBy Angelic P. Bush, MSRS, CRA, RT, FAHRA

As imaging leaders, you are probably very familiar with the term “crucial conversations.” You may have even had one this week. But as a new leader so many years ago, I did not know what a crucial conversation was, and to be perfectly honest I don’t think I would have referred to those talks with such eloquence. I was a bit more jaded then and called them, “come to Jesus” meetings. That is not very leader-like of me to say, is it? But back then I saw these as negative conversations instead of the gift they can be – and maybe you have too.

I share this with you because as I think about the “Legacy of Mentorship” series, I am reminded of a person who cared enough about me, my success, and my future to have such a conversation with me. She was not my boss; she was a peer – a good, true friend who saw an opportunity and cared enough about me to bring it to my attention. Her name is Beth Dye. I was a MRI supervisor at the time and to say I was “wet behind the ears” is an understatement.

One day we were extremely busy, and seeing that Beth was a detail oriented person and I was a serious multi-tasker, I “planted” her at the console while I ran around like a Mexican jumping bean getting the patients lined up, answering phones, turning over the exam room, doing the safety screenings… in short I ran around her all day doing everything to keep her from having to do any of it. At the end of the day I was so proud of myself. After all, I kept Beth in her strength area and I stayed in mine. Yes, it was hectic, but I did it so she would not have to stress out. So, I must have done the right thing… right?

After the day was over, my dear friend Beth gently reminded me that she was a highly qualified MRI technologist who could handle a crazy day (in fact, Beth was the person who taught me MRI years earlier). She reminded me that we can accomplish a lot more working together than me trying to do it alone, and that by not allowing her to do more, I made her feel like I thought her incapable of handling the day.

I went through several stages of anger that afternoon on my drive home. Up to that point in my career, I had only received praise on all evaluations (military and civilian). I had been nominated for 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year awards, was a John L. Levitow award winner at Airmen Leadership School, and I had been personally requested by my medical director to run other departments. Now, for the first time in my career, I was being called out on a flaw. I just knew that Beth had to have been the person in the wrong here because it couldn’t have been me. My record was pristine. I replayed our conversation and that day’s events in my head several times. While it took the entire ride home before I could see it, I did finally come to the conclusion… that she was right.

Beth cared enough about me to be honest with me. She didn’t say that what I was doing was wrong, but she shared with me how what I was doing made her feel. No one is perfect, and leaders can’t learn everything from a book or a course. Some of these lessons must be lived. Beth gave me a gift that day. She taught me the value of listening. She also demonstrated for me that crucial conversations are rooted in the desire to see the other succeed, not in discipline. Instead of pointing out “flaws” in the other person, you provide insight as to where certain actions hold that person back from what could be their greatest accomplishments yet.

Our 2018 Annual Meeting is just 5 weeks away! As Beth pointed out to me all those years ago, we can accomplish so much more by working together. I am so excited to see my AHRA family again and recharge with a body of like passions. No one of us should go through this leadership journey alone. You have a mighty imaging family who want you to succeed. But you do play a critical role in this: you must participate. You can’t recharge your passion for imaging leadership and management if you aren’t there!

To Beth Dye, thank you for caring enough about me to not allow me to stay in that vicious cycle. To my AHRA family, remember that crucial conversations come at you from all directions. That is why it is important to keep your mind open and surround yourself with people who truly want you to succeed. That is what attending the AHRA Annual Meeting provides you. I hope to see you there!

Angelic P. Bush, MSRS, CRA, RT, FAHRA is the 2017-2018 president of the AHRA Board of Directors. She works at Baylor Scott & White-Round Rock in Round Rock, TX and can be reached at


  1. Hi Angelic,
    The honesty and sincerity from someone in your role are so much appreciated. This article definitely resonates with so many of us.
    I think I am being helpful so that others can fulfill their role, but in actuality, I am not. Thanks for covering this topic with your heart and mind…
    Best Regards,

  2. I really loved this one, Angie! So soucient. Thank you for sharing your exoeriences!

  3. Your experience opened my eyes. When you think being a ‘go-to’ leader all the time is the correct answer to resolving problems, you deprive others of reaching their potential and when you aren’t there, they won’t be there, either.

  4. Angie, I have to say you walk the talk, to say the least. I learned from you the value and importance of listening to be an effective leader. You continue to inspire me. As Brian Tracy said: “Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others succeed.” Thank you for being such a great mentor.

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