It used to be that patients could tell the skill of their doctor merely from the laying-on of hands. But now, with technology ruling so many of our decisions and a keyboard beckoning so we can input the data, not only has that sense of touch been lost, but the importance of listening. Many doctors don’t listen—they just start talking.
Good doctors listen. They know that Illness starts with “I” and Wellness starts with “We”—and listening is an essential component of the We. They listen to what’s been said—and what’s left unsaid. They acknowledge the words and the pain and the fears. They make eye contact with the patient instead of the computer keyboard. They gauge a patient’s feelings by their body language.
Not only that, but good doctors look at their patients with the same kind of caring and compassion as if they were members of the doctor’s own family. They listen as if it were their own mother talking to them when they were kids—from a place of love. They listen as another human being on this crazy journey called life. Not to get anything back (except, perhaps, information) while being able to give them the comfort they need…the acknowledgment that someone in this world is listening to them for what they have to say. This is listening not in order to manipulate or to judge or make these patients feel that they’re wrong. It’s about just getting what they have to say.