Having read the following article in the Guardian’s Healthcare network a while ago, I was reminded of my own experience of the immensely negative impact of ineffective listening.

A couple of years ago I lost my father after what can only be described as a hellish 6 months. During this time my father and my family were subjected to, well pretty much everything we hear about in the press in terms of his care. Yet the thing that would have made the biggest difference and prevented many of these failings would have been simply to listen to us and to dad.

Am I saying this to criticise the people who work within the NHS? Absolutely not!

There were a few things I realised during this painful time. One was that the healthcare professionals were not providing a poor level of care on purpose. Most were doing the best they could but had just perhaps forgotten or did not realise the impact of not truly listening. I also had to ask myself the question – do I always really listen or how many times does that voice in my head that is busy analysing, arguing and thinking about other ‘more important’ things get in the way?

Management Guru Tom Peters quotes a Harvard study where they found that the average GP interrupts the patient within 18 seconds. Does he highlight this out to point the finger at doctors? No – he highlights it to point the finger at all of us!

So consider, are you an 18 second interrupter?

How much more effective would your communication be if you really listened?

How far could your level of service be improved if you really understood what your client or patient was saying?

How could your relationships be improved if you knew how to really listen and understand each other?

This was a lesson I learnt the hard way!

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