Listening is not a skill that I expected to develop. I thought I’d get good with palpation or pulse reading. After all, the masters are said to get what they need with the pause and a few questions. That’s what I was aiming for, however it did not work out that way for me.

I’ve found over the years that there is a way of listening to a patient that has allowed me to both uncover what I need to know to treat them, but more importantly, help me to better understand innate resources they have that they either are not in touch with, or curiously enough think are deficiencies or problems.

Listening is not passive, nor about just hearing what the patient says, it also involves an inner ear to our own experience.

This episode is a solo show in which I share some what my clinical experience has taught about an often overlooked yin aspect of our work— listening.


In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • Talking to podcast guests is just like talking to patients
  • Listening for a patient’s strengths, weaknesses and resources
  • Unpacking 聽 the character for Listen
  • Listening is not passive, to goes both outward and inward
  • Listening is more important than knowing
  • Energetically leaving some space
  • Using your confusion to authentically connect
  • People have a hard time tracking their own experience
  • The power of silence
  • The difference between “you’re right” and “that’s right”
  • Listening patients into their own wisdom
  • Empathy

There is a big difference between “you're right” and “that's right.” When you hear the former, you've lost the connection with your patient. When you hear the latter, you've touched in on something deep and essential.

Michael Max, L.Ac

I didn't set out to create a podcast show, in much the same way I didn't set out to learn acupuncture.

Those were not decisions that came from a flash of inspiration or childhood longing, but more like how something at the periphery of your vision catches your attention.

More like a hunch or decisive whisper. Those hunches have lead me through learning acupuncture, acquiring enough Chinese to allow me to engage texts in their original language and share some of that with our community of practitioners. And my practice has lead me to the expansive nature of questions and listening.

Listening has allowed me to be of service to patients who are not sure how they got to where they are, or where to go from here. I guess you could say that listening has helped me to find a set of maps that helps me to navigate in clinic and to trust the compass when there is no map. While I crave the certainty of answers, I'm more enlivened by the catalytic nature of questions that's what fuels the clinical encounter.


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