Lessons on listening - DVM
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Lessons on listening
Techniques to improve your skill as diagnostician, compassionate doctor and manager


In summary

So, what have we learned? Here are 25 statements to consider:

  • Good listening skills are an essential part of conveying our interest in the overall welfare of patients and clients.
  • In addition to developing IQs, we must keep developing our EAR-Qs, listening with the goal of understanding meanings and noting the feeling with which concerns are stated.
  • To be good listeners, we must take note of what is not said.
  • Empathic listening is motivated by the intent to understand.
  • Many people don't listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.
  • Many clients won't care how much we know until they know how much we care.
  • Empathic listening encompasses our capacity to understand and acknowledge our client's point of view, whether we agree with them or not.
  • By paraphrasing or summarizing our client's concerns, they will be more likely to recognize that we empathically understand them.
  • In addition to learning how and when to listen, we must want to listen.
  • A good boss is one whose ears get as much exercise as his or her mouth.
  • Listening involves patience, openness and a desire to understand.
  • We should be quick to listen, but slow to speak.
  • We must want to empathically listen to others, and practice for it to become a personal communication style.
  • Too often we do not listen with the intent of understanding (empathic listening), because we have developed the habit of listening with the intent to reply (reactive listening).
  • Listening shows courtesy, respect and appreciation.
  • Good communication is dependent on an open mind as well as an open door.
  • Good listeners generally make more sales than good talkers.
  • Allow others to complete their thoughts without interrupting.
  • When someone replies to a matter before hearing it completely, that is foolishness.
  • Reacting defensively is a barrier to further communication.
  • Non-verbal nodding and good (but not piercing) eye contact tells our clients that we are listening.
  • One component of effective listening is to be patient without being passive.
  • Smiling at opportune times puts the client at ease.
  • Nervous fidgeting (shuffling papers, tapping fingers) may be perceived as disinterest toward the speaker.
  • Finally, we have learned that we were given ears that don't close, and a mouth that does — for a very obvious purpose.

Dr. Osborne, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, is professor of medicine in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota.

Lisa Ulrich is a certified veterinary technician, a 1983 graduate of the University of Minnesota-Waseca. She joined the team at the Minnesota Urolith Center in 1987.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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