In this Shop Talk segment we discuss the multi-sensory aspects of listening, and begin to explore the vast topic not of the “what we do” in clinic, but instead the “how we are.”

Presence and attention, being inquisitive on behalf of our patients and keeping a rein on our ego are all skills that have nothing to do with what points we choose, and everything with how we interact with those points.


Michael Max

I thought I’d know a lot more after 25 years in practice, and I’ve also learned so much that I never expected.

Over time I’ve learned to say less in clinic and to listen more. It sounds easy; it’s not. It’s not easy because it is oh so easy for the helpful spirit in me to want to be of service and ‘give something’ to my patients. It’s taken a long time to realize that attempting to give something to a patient that they did not want or ask for was a burden to them, and a waste of time and breath for me.

Over time I discovered that getting still and seeing if I could understand my patients from their point of view, if I could connect with the kind of empathy that seeks first to understand, or if I could patiently wait for a patient to tell me what they actually needed, it seemed to help. It made diagnosis easier, and my treatments more precise.