Christopher Bays is Sound’s new data scientist. A data scientist analyzes and interprets complex digital information and collects and analyzes large sets of structured and unstructured data from disparate sources in order to assist a business in its decision-making. Bays knows that there are many ways to interpret information and the world, by observing and by asking questions and says that making conclusions without analysis is a mistake.
Bays is logical and methodical but he adds another layer to the work of data science; a thoughtfulness that explores facts as fluid and data as open to interpretation.
“Human beings need to put things in categories to make sense of their world but data can be interpreted differently depending on the variables in play. Data does not speak for itself,” says Bays. “But taking what you see for granted is the worst thing you can do. Always ask more questions of your data.”
This lesson in the value of thoughtful data analysis is also applicable to successful real-world communications. In a recent Sound training on inclusion and diversity, he shared that his sibling Jessie was born female, but is now a transgender man. Bays explained that Jessie faces challenges every day by people who simply don’t know how to address him properly. He helped explain ways in which we can correctly and respectfully address transgender and non-binary people in the workplace and in our daily interactions.
It’s common for trans or non-binary people to still be referred to by their given (as opposed to affirmed) names. They are also referred to by incorrect pronouns, he/she/him/her, by people who assume their gender. Bays believes that people should not make assumptions, instead, they should be candid and simply ask thoughtful questions.
“What matters most is the intention behind your communication. Just like you might ask a team member if they have kids, if they’re married or what they like to do in their free time, you can ask someone how they’d like to be addressed, or how they’d like to be referred to. If you make a mistake or hurt someone’s feelings, just be open to receiving that feedback without becoming offended yourself.” Bays says. “The worst thing you could do is to not engage with someone because you’re not sure how to talk to them.”
Bays is a very logical, data-driven person who has the ability to understand that data is multi-faceted and fluid, just like people. Thoughtful communication, then, is imperative.
“The goal is to communicate that you’d like to be correct and respectful and that you’d like to get to know them. When communicating with all people, our goal should be to use words that have the power to validate, acknowledge, and include. It’s okay to ask people to help you do that.”
Bays was attracted to Sound’s vision of providing effective and innovative whole healthcare for the people and community we serve and to our core values, particularly to respect the uniqueness and cultural differences of individuals. Bays was also eager to work on Sound’s new Reaching Recovery model of care which gathers data from many different sources, stating that this method of data analysis is an excellent way to take proper care of people.
Bays’ hope is that people will always strive to make an effort to be thoughtful and understand that there is a community for everyone. “People know what’s important about themselves. If you ask them, they’ll tell you.”