Prepare to listen. Get rid of internal and external distractions.

–Uma Gupta

In continuation with the series of articles on effective listening tips, by Glocal Academy, this article focuses on the second listening tip.

Effective listening is the gateway to successful diagnosis. As a Clinician, effective listening helps us read between the lines and build a connection with the patient. However, one of the severe limiting factors to effective listening is distraction. For listening to come into being we should be aware of the distractions (internal and external) and take steps to get rid of them.

Therefore, the topic for discussion is Prepare to listen. Get rid of internal and external distractions.

Given the severe time constraints, huge workload and staff shortages we are in a rush to make the most out of our time and tend to divert our attention on to multiple things. In addition, the emotional hijackings hinder our ability to pay attention which in turn leads to ineffective listening. These, external and internal distractions, may lead to an incomplete information gathering and incorrect diagnosis and may often cause the patient to refrain from opening to us. 

I wrote a poem to highlight the distractions and the challenges they pose on listening. 

Blinking lights, beeping phones and agile minds,

Distracts come in different shapes and kinds. 

Pause, breathe and see,

You will experience your patient’s energy. 

Understand them with full attention,

As there is stagnation in distraction.

To sum up, we need to identify routine life obstacles to active listening, to ensure that we render better services and continuously enhance our skills, as the practise of medicine is infinite- a journey, not a destination. 

Reflective Questions-

  1. As a patient, have you ever felt disconnected to your doctor because they were distracted?
  2. What are your suggestions to ensure fewer distractions?

About Author

Uma Gupta

I am a final year medical student, living in dreamland, hoping to achieve world peace with small snippets and poems. I have a goal, to live a happy life, full of love and knowledge. I have tried to give shape to my thoughts in this article, I hope you all like it.


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