By Sandra O’Keefe
Administrative Manager, Diabetes Education Program and Certified Wellness Coach
When I was going through the training program to become a Wellness Coach, one of the lessons that spoke the loudest to me was that on the practice of really listening to someone speak. How many times during a conversation have you tuned the other person out or cut them off after a thought popped into your mind that you just had to share right away? The teacher in this particular course singled me out and asked me to play a listening game with him. One person would say a sentence and the other person had to respond with a sentence that began with the last word of the first person’s sentence. The conversation might go like this: Teacher: “It is warm outside today.” Me: “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Teacher: “Life is a fun board game I used to play as a child.” I have to admit-this activity was very difficult for me to do and has changed the way I converse with others today.
Too often educators are guilty of not letting our patients completely express themselves, thinking that we know the way that is best for them. This can lead to frustration in both the educator and the patient from which neither benefits. Instead, if we focus on our patients and actively listen to them, we can better understand them as individuals and help them learn, grow and develop.
The technique of listening, really listening, takes attention and a lot of practice. The MGH Diabetes Education Program is trying to learn ways to better listen to our patients. Please take our survey so that we can better understand your needs and develop ways to improve our conversations with you. We promise, we’ll listen.