Blog 5B. Emotional Situations


This continues the examples presented in Blog 5A.

In the late 1990s senior staff of the New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) started a Medical Advisory Board for the Department’s Commissioner. The Board’s biggest job was to help with media over-reaction to medical issues about driving that worried the state legislature.

An eye doctor chaired the Board. He started with issues about eye-sight. He asked me to chair a committee about black outs and seizures.

The Chair passed scientific medical studies to his committee about new ways to test vision for driving. The new ways were better than those New York State was using. Three members of the vision committee didn’t think the studies proved their point.

I offered help. None of the three had ever done scientific research. They were on the Board because they had other knowledge, and skills the Board needed.

The three thought the authors of the scientific studies weren’t sure of the conclusions. Why not? In each study, the discussion section pointed out weaknesses in methods and interpretation.

The three needed coaching about scientific writing but without making them wrong. It’s assumed no scientific paper is complete and no single project can look at all possibilities. A paper has to point out these limitations and suggest other interpretations or it won’t get published.

Once the three understood this, they read the cautious sentences in the papers’ discussion as mere cautions. The eye doctor presented a unanimous recommendation to the DMV’s Commissioner. Within six months, the new vision tests in all New York DMV offices. I believe they are still used today.

Further examples will come in Blog 5C.


Illustrations in my blogs are either my own drawings or courtesy of


Contact me at 650-762-6755 or for more information or to start a conversation. 

Pieter Kark, MD, San Mateo, CA 94401-2238


 Blog 5A. Emotional Situations


teacher-1276272_1920Companies often promote people technical experts to manage their team. The new subordinates ask the new manager how to handle emotional problems at home or at work. Often the new manager barely recognizes emotions. How can s/he cope?

Some new managers take courses at a college, workshops given by consulting groups, or learn by making mistakes and correcting them.

I suggest coaching. It doesn’t matter whether the coach is from inside the company or outside. The new manager’s chemistry has to work with the coach’s. The mistakes the coach made are good examples for new manager.

The two probably should meet two or three times a week. The manager has to learn to be honest both with her/his self and with the coach about failures. Once the manager can speak frankly in detail, the coach can make good suggestions. The coach needs gentle care and compassion.


In my career, medical colleagues needed to deal with emotional situations that frightened them: brain disease. My practice included diseases of the brain. Most doctors heal or keep healthy the organ system they specialize in so that organ will support the brain. We needed to collaborate on patients with a brain disease on top of the illness my colleague treated.

We’d together sit in the cafeteria or go to a conference room. I took responsibility for the brain’s problems, explain how the part of the brain that was damaged should work, and how the disease caused difficulty. I’d tell how I would treat the disease, and how long it might take.

We’d discuss the problems that might come up. I was responsible for talking with the patient and the patient’s family about these.

It worked when I felt how my colleague responded. I failed when I was abrupt or dogmatic.

(More information will appear in my next blog, 5B.)


Illustrations in my blogs are either my own drawings or courtesy of


Contact me at 650-762-6755 or for more information or to start a conversation.


Pieter Kark, MD, San Mateo, CA 94401-2238


New Blog 4. Meetings of Boards, Major Committees, and Councils







Meetings of boards, major committees, and councils bog down when there are arguments, personality clashes, or fixed viewpoints.  Any of these blocks productivity of the meeting. Dissent and argument are valuable, so lubrication is the way to proceed.

If I’m a member, I sit where I can feel everyone, only contribute when needed, and then from intuition. Often someone who readily dissents will become a contributor to a consensus or even suggest a consensus that allows the group to accomplish its tasks.

When I forget to suspend judgment my efforts don’t work. If I don’t feel everyone in the room, my efforts don’t work.

Even more effective is to scribe for the meeting. Write key phrases and summations of discussion on paper on an easel all can see. That evening,  turn these into draft minutes, ask the chair to edit, and send the final version to everyone who attended.

I did this for the committee that set direction, values, and policies when two Red Cross Chapters merged. The best practices from each chapter were to be incorporated into the new one. Scribing was am effective contribution. The tools of consciousness lubricated  discussion. The new chapter was very effective. Two other key committees of the new chapter asked me to scribe to keep them effective.


Illustrations in my blogs are either my own drawings or courtesy of


Contact me at 650-762-6755 or for more information or to start a conversation.

 Pieter Kark, MD, San Mateo, CA 94401-2238