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How to Practice Intentional Listening

What is intentional listening and why should you practice it? Read on to find out.

You might be asking what exactly is “intentional listening” and why do I need to practice this communication skill. Intentional listening meets a very basic human need—to be heard and understood. Sometimes being heard isn’t enough—patients want to be validated. When a patient feels validated, you build trust.

To practice intentional listening well, you should focus completely on the patient. Observe their emotions, behaviors, energy and level of thinking. Listen to understand their emotions and what they’re saying. Don’t listen only with the intent to reply.

Be aware of their perceptions and possible biases and lose yours. Observe whether they are talking about what they see, what they hear, what they do, how they feel, and most significantly, what it all means to them. Explain the treatment, propose small changes and when a patient shares their symptoms with you, show genuine curiosity and concern. Ask open-ended questions and let them speak. Ask how the symptom or problem is affecting their day-to-day life. Avoid quick, rapid-fire questions back at the patient.

Listening with the intent to understand means you're paying attention not to voice your own thoughts, but to understand someone else's point of view. Being a good communicator is about how well you're able to listen. 

For additional information on communication tips visit these links:

Active listening: The key of successful communication in hospital managers

Listening Techniques for Physicians

How to Practice Active Listening: 16 Examples & Techniques

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