Patient Experience for Locum Tenens – “Active listening: Support, don’t shift”

Active listening is a communication skill whereby the listener is willing and able to fully pay attention to understand the speaker with the goal of thoughtfully acknowledging what is being said. This promotes a conversation that better supports the speaker’s needs. The primary components of active listening are common sense but they’re not always easy:

  • Avoid interruption (listen and pay attention)
  • Show interest (sit down, lean forward, nod or give brief verbal acknowledgment)
  • Postpone evaluation (keep an open mind; don’t evaluate the speaker until they are done)

 

Finally, the listener must acknowledge what they’ve heard by offering a “support response,” for example:

Shift Response Scenario

Physician #1: “I just met with a family for nearly an hour – they were really upset about their dad’s decision to forego surgery.”

Listening Physician #2: “That sounds like it was a difficult situation for everyone.”

Often, we hear what is called a “shift response” which is the result of the listener shifting the conversation to their agenda.

Shift Response Scenario

Physician #1: “I just met with a family for nearly an hour – they were really upset about their dad’s decision to forego surgery.”

Listening Physician #2: “Last week I literally met with a family for two hours.”

The “support response” should sound familiar. It’s simply an expression of empathy. 

Think you’re a good active listener? Take this self-assessment and see how you do. Identify one area where you have room to improve and focus on it during your conversations with patients, colleagues or family members.

And remember: support, don’t shift. It will make you a more empathetic communicator.

Source:  Mark Rudolph, MD, SFHM, VP Physician Development & Patient Experience, Sound Physicians
< Go Back