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Hearing and listening are the same in that they both use our ears. They’re different in that hearing is more of a science—computers can recognize and decipher our speech. Listening is more of an art—computers aren’t all that good at reading between the lines. Thank goodness you get to interact with people as people—not as computers. Thank goodness you can listen! But it takes conscious effort to do so.

Do you remember this YouTube video of 3-year-old Mateo making his case for cupcakes?

 The frustration was real for both Mateo AND Linda. Were Mateo and Linda "hearing" each other or "listening" to each other?

Let’s take an example from a medical practice.

     Ellen: So what brings you in to see us today?

     Patient: Well, the other day, I was out pulling weeds in the garden, and I think I pulled a muscle. I felt a twinge, and the pain just hasn’t gone away. Now it’s affecting what I can and can’t do with the kids. They’re running me ragged, and I can’t keep up!

     Ellen: OK—the doctor will be with you in a minute and decide what he wants to do.

There’s nothing really wrong with that exchange. But how could we make it even better?  Take a look at this as one possibility.

     Ellen: So what brings you in to see us today?

     Patient: Well, the other day, I was out pulling weeds in the garden, and I think I pulled a muscle. I felt a twinge, and the pain just hasn’t gone away. Now it’s affecting what I can and can’t do with the kids. They’re running me ragged, and I can’t keep up!

     Ellen: I understand—it’s so easy to pull a muscle. You must be exhausted. I have three kids of my own; I can only imagine what that must be like when you’re not feeling well. Good thing you came in. I’ll bring this to the doctor’s attention.

 

People Just Want To Be Heard

You can show that you’re paying attention by demonstrating the very best body language—sitting undistracted, looking the other person in the eye, nodding every once in a while—but that’s not really the same thing as showing that you’re listening. In your head, you could be thinking about your day, or what you’re going to have for dinner, or what you’ll say next. Most people simply want to be heard. They want proof that you’ve been listening while they share what’s important to them. Sure, they’re looking for answers and solutions, but they can get that from a lot of sources, including the Internet. From you, they want proof that someone understands them.

In Healthcare, there are many things that you cannot fix for a patient, but the one thing that you and your staff can do to make them feel better is to let them know they have been heard. When you open that line of communication, they will develop a trust in you that you deserve to have. They will feel comfortable sharing very important information with you that can help you in your effort to help them get better or feel better. When that happens, you have just created a raving fan!

If your goal is to make your patients raving fans, reach out at donna.bak@sandler.com  to see if any of our communications workshops will benefit you and your staff.

*Excerpted from Patient Care—the Sandler Way Running a Profitable Medical Practice that Has Patients Cheering By Donna Bak --Available April 2017!

 

 

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