Have you ever updated a patient or family member only to know in your heart that they have not heard a word you said?  It is clear to you that they are distracted by the critical status of their loved one, in addition to the other stresses in their lives.  Have you ever been guilty of not fully listening to your patient, spouse, or child because of the many distractions in your life?  It happens to all of us from time to time.  It is part of being human and having multiple roles and responsibilities.  There are strategies to listening.  These strategies  help us refocus and become present with the person we are having a conversation with, whether it is in the office, on the unit, on the phone, or at home.

  • Set the intention.  When you are about to enter into a conversation, take a quick survey of your mental and physical surroundings. Make a conscious decision to put a pause on the distractions.  Connect with the speaker. 
  • Become aware of your filters.  Filters influence the way we receive information.  As we become aware of how we are listening we begin to know if we are allowing other experiences to influence the present conversation.
  • Give feedback using the speaker’s words.  This is particularly helpful when engaging patients. They know you have heard what they said when you use their terminology.  It becomes an opportunity for clarification. 

Bonus Tip: Powerful words are said in the silence.  “Listen” to body language and what is left unsaid.

Consider adding these strategies to your own style of listening and watch your communication soar.