They taught us in medical school that if you listen to our patients long enough, they will tell us what’s wrong with them. It sounds like an obvious statement, but it can be easily forgotten.
Active listening is a communication technique that is used in counseling, training, and conflict resolution. It requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.
Bryant H McGill said that “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.“ We owe that to our patients. By actively listening, we let patients know that we care and respect what they have to say.
It is important if you’re talking with someone and you want to let them know that you care and are truly listening that you monitor your behavior. It’s important to avoid checking your devices and truly listen. Don’t spend your time thinking about responses but rather maintain good eye contact and ask good follow-up and relevant questions.
This week I am spending two days in the American Osteopathic Association virtual House of Delegates meeting. It reinforces the fact that genuine, active listening can be work. In the end, however, is worth it. Resolutions are presented and active deliberation occurs before decisions are made. When active listening occurs, people come away satisfied that they have been heard and fair decisions are made.