Listening is a form of kindness, and not one that every person gets to experience in their day. To acknowledge that you hear and understand a person shows consideration of their fears and feelings.
It is a skill, like any other, that takes practice to master. But once you integrate it into your daily routine you’ll find that it makes many things so much easier.
Patients that feel heard are less resistant to instruction and are more agreeable. They are more relaxed during a scan and have fewer questions to interrupt you with.
It’s a rewarding experience for both the tech and the patient to feel heard and understood.
Listening, like anything else, is a skill that gets better with practice. These are the practices that I use to keep my listening skills sharp each day.
How to listen:
1. Make eye contact
I usually give eye contact at the beginning of the exam, when I introduce myself and ask the first history questions and again at the end when I explain that w e’re finishing up. I also make eye contact at one point during the scan when I check in with them to see how they are doing.
Some techs also include a caveat at the beginning of the exam that they have to give their attention to the screen now, but that they’re still paying attention to what the patient is saying. This is helpful for keeping the lines of communication open between the two of you.
2. Don't be too quick to reply
I usually let people talk during the set up time and at the beginning of the scans. With practice I am able to both listen and scan, only interrupting to ask them to hold their breath or change position if needed.
3. Express an appropriate emotion.
Most patients are focused on you face as you do the scan so any change in facial expression is easily seen and understood. Make you reactions both understanding and friendly.
These can be very small actions on your part that show a lot of caring and reassure patients. And they are easy to do just by listening to their voice tone.
If you are ever wondering how you are doing, try asking your patients for feedback. This is another great way to let them know that you are doing your best to listen and understand them, and that their satisfaction with the exam and your attention is important to you.
Give it a try the next time you have an extra minute at the end of the exam, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you hear.