Darren Murphy is a compassionate caregiver, skilled speaker, and practiced facilitator who is driven to help people discover and live their best lives.
He is known for his hands-on, technology-free course design. Whether it’s a workshop on multi-cultural communication, patient interactions, conflict resolution, or presentation skills, Darren delivers participant-centric programming.
A lifelong learner and avid reader, Darren prides himself on incorporating the best information on a topic available into any curriculum he develops.
He firmly believes that training is a piece of behavior change, not the entire process. As part of any engagement, he works with clients to identify desired outcomes, confirm expectations, and discuss “what’s next.”
Darren has supported the US Navy, the city of Dayton, OH, the Hartford Housing Authority, St. Thomas Credit Union, the United States Mint, the Department of Homeland Security, the Kentucky Public Health Association, the Kentucky Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses, and the Barren River District Health Department.
Darren holds an ADRN (associate degree registered nurse), a BS in health science, and an MPH from Western Kentucky University.
8 Keys to Connecting: The Communication Code of Conduct
Darren began his career as a military police officer in the United States Air Force. In that role, he became familiar with both military and law-enforcement cultures as he held a variety of assignments both in the United States and abroad.
After several years in the service and ready for a change, Darren turned in his military ID and enrolled in nursing school.
Upon graduating with his RN degree, Darren worked in oncology research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center before joining the emergency room staffs at many other hospitals. For more than 30 years, Darren has practiced as a critical care nurse in emergency care, intensive care, coronary care, and recovery-room care.
During that time, he has also earned a bachelor of science degree in health science and master of public health.
Throughout his medical career, Darren has received high marks for his clinical care and patient-satisfaction scores. He credits his ability to connect with patients and their families with his early childhood experience of being “the new kid” more than a dozen times.
Darren’s desire to teach and train stems from the many hours he spent early in his career helping others learn patient interactions. That experience coupled with the daily events in a medical center pushed him toward education.
After seeing a range of patients and conditions, he became eager to share what he knew about self-care and staying out of the hospital. To that end, he developed a range of wellness programs and began formally studying public speaking and facilitation.
Soon following that schooling, he accepted a contract position conducting public seminars with a national training firm. Able to leverage his years of patient care and customer service experience, Darren taught multi-cultural communication, anger management, conflict resolution, and other soft-skills topics to thousands of people.
At the same time, he continued his work in healthcare and began designing participant-focused training solutions for his own private clients.
In 2005, Darren started a two-year term teaching health and wellness programs to undergraduate students at Western Kentucky University where he earned top marks on his student course evaluations.
Around that same time, he conducted a series of train-the-trainer courses for the State of Kentucky’s Area Health Education Consortium, an information clearinghouse for such public service employees as police, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians.
Darren began working with Business Training Works in 2008.
What three or four words describe your facilitation style.
Prepared, thoughtful, and outcome focused.
How has your experience in the medical field influenced your work outside that arena?
In the medical field, you have a wide range of emotional events. If you know how to listen and respond knowledgeably and with empathy, you’ll be effective. In other words, you need to be fully focused and present with patients. You also need to understand how to read people and adjust your approach.
That same skill set translates to learners. It’s important to do your homework, prepare for a range of scenarios, take a genuine interest in people, and help people think about what they’re going to do differently in the future.
You’ve established some best practices for improving patient satisfaction and outcomes. What are some of the secrets?
I think it’s important to have a rapport and to know how to build relationships quickly. You need that skill in order to help people feel they’re part of the process and not as if the process is happening to them.
One aspect of dissatisfaction that stands out is uncertainty. You need to do all you can to eliminate anxiety and ambiguity when you are with a patient.
People need to ask their questions when they’re still at the medical center. Those concerns shouldn’t surface for the first time when they’re home and maybe home alone.
You do a lot of cross-cultural communication training. What experience qualifies you?
I’ve lived overseas, I’ve worked overseas, and I’ve treated hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who weren’t born in the United States. I don’t pretend to know everything, but I’ve learned a lot about how culture can influence what’s important to people as well as how culture can influence how people want to give and receive information.
How do you prepare for a training session?
If a client will invest the time, I’ll put in the hours to really understand what’s going on and what the desired future state is. I truly enjoy projects that span months or even years. It’s extremely rewarding to realize real change.
Why do you think training fails?
Assuming training is the solution or part of the solution, there are a few reasons failure can happen.
The biggest one is unrealistic expectations. I’ve seen organizations with deep-rooted culture problems bring in a half-day customer service program and expect an instant transformation. That’s called magic. Anyone who tells you something different is probably selling ocean-front property somewhere in the Midwest too.
What’s your solution to that problem?
For major initiatives, senior leaders need to buy in, and we need a timeline. I’ll work on a few behaviors at a time. The way I see it, it’s sort of like learning a language. For example, you don’t have an Arabic lesson one evening and then wake up the next day speaking like a native. You learn the basics, and then you build on those fundamentals. I approach large-scale behavioral change in the same way.
You were on the public seminar circuit for several years. When you did that, you couldn’t do the deep dives you like to do. How did you make that work?
I had to ignite “a fire of desire” in people. Seriously, I had to get people to buy in and see value in making a change. And it wasn’t always easy. A lot of the people I worked with were sent to me to be “fixed.” They knew it, and they weren’t always happy about being in my class. I worked hard to get them to see the day as an opportunity. Most of the time I was successful.
What did the public-seminar circuit teach you?
To think on my feet. I also learned how to design activities and exercises to supplement a lecture-based curriculum. Fill-in-the-blank workbooks do not equal interactive training. That’s not a criticism, by the way. At the time, a lot of companies had similar content. The industry has come a long way – at least the stuff I’m doing has.
Why did you stop conducting public seminars?
I don’t like selling. I like solving problems and helping people. That doesn’t mean I won’t recommend a resource, but I don’t like pushing product. The companies I was working for had a revenue-per-participant goal. My thinking just didn’t align with that objective.
When you’re not working, what are your interests?
I enjoy teaching people with special needs to ride horses on my farm, and I read. I get through four to six titles a week. I’ve never been much of a television guy. There’s nothing wrong with people who are, it’s just not me.