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a blog by Chris Barrow

Are you listening?

You are so busy. So much “to do” and so little time to do it. Lists, tasks, meetings, deadlines, projects, ventures, commitments, responsibilities. But you are missing the most important. Conversations. Good conversations. Empathetic listening. Here’s what a client told me this morning:

Busy day. I saw that a lady I hadn’t seen before had been scheduled in. For some reason, I decided in my mind that she was in for a “new patient consultation” and whilst the nurses were cleaning the surgery and as no-one else was due in immediately, I went and sat with her in the lounge and chatted about her, why she was here, her previous experiences etc. I then took her into the surgery and continued to treat her as “a new patient consultation”. A few minutes later I noticed my rather agitated nurse who passed me a note to let me know that this lady was not “a new patient consultation” but a “pain patient” for whom I had a short slot and presumably was expected to sort out her immediate problem only. I did shift gear and focussed on the problem but what was clear was that this lady was blown away by the attention and interest she had received! She was actually talking excitedly about it in the lounge to the next patient whilst waiting for her estimate, antibiotics etc. It made me think about ways in which the labels we use for situations can dictate our behaviour. This lady received much more care and attention than she had expected, was hugely impressed, and I will be changing the way we label our appointments in future………..

And I responded that this was a potential tragedy – an opportunity lost. Yesterday I read a two-page email (copied to me) written by a dentist who was angry, VERY angry. The email was a list of operational complaints. But the real issue was his perception that nobody was listening to him. The detail was easily resolved. The emotion will take longer to heal. You cannot progress in life without good conversations. So here is my question? Who “out there” is feeling abandoned and unappreciated by you right now?

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