The power of communication in medicine

Medicine has a language all of its own – a combination of Ancient Greek, Latin, people’s names, made-up words and acronyms – but what is the purpose of that language? It has been developed for us to communicate with each other – with other doctors, but also with our colleagues, staff and patients – and there is a real power in that communication.

Relationships are all about communication and most complaints (which are relationship breakdowns) are due to a breakdown in communication.

To truly communicate, we need to connect with people first, to feel where they are at and speak to them in a language they understand.

The word communication comes from the Latin communicatio(n- ), from the verb communicare ‘to share’. So communication is not a telling, but a sharing, of information, of ideas, of feelings.

There is no one-size-fits-all algorithm when it comes to communication, for everyone is different. The way we transmit information will depend on the level of information the other person has access to, for example the way we talk with another specialist in our same area will be different from the way we talk with a doctor who works in another field, or the way we discuss their health condition with a patient.

But the essence of clear communication is that we resonate with one another, for communication is in fact a vibration – not just of the spoken word, but of the way we feel about each other.

We all feel everything, all of the time. We can feel where someone is at, what emotional state they are in, whether they like us or not, whether they are afraid of us or don’t trust us… and the more we allow ourselves to feel all of this, the more we can communicate with people in a way they can understand and relate to. But to do this, we have to look into people’s eyes and let them into our hearts.

Looking into people’s eyes

I love to look in people’s eyes, including when I am talking to them. I can tell if the lights are on and they are hearing and understanding what I am saying, or if they are glazed over and just nodding, worried that I will think they are stupid if they ask me to repeat something or ask a question. I can tell if a man is just waiting for me to finish talking so he can ask me if I can bring his wife into the consultation to listen too… I am learning to read these signs earlier and earlier and now I usually suggest it would be a good idea for them to come in together to begin with! I can tell if someone is worried, and ask if there is a particular reason they are afraid of this diagnosis or of having this procedure… perhaps their neighbour had similar symptoms and ended up with cancer, or a family member had this operation and had surgical complications.

When people say or do things that may not make sense to us, it is important to remember that it makes sense to them, and to dig a little deeper to find out why… to ask why they would rather give up driving than have cataract surgery, to ask why they won’t put drops in their eyes to control their glaucoma and prevent them from going blind… rather than just labelling them as uncooperative or non-compliant. We do everything for a reason, it is just a matter of finding out what that reason is, so we can understand people more deeply.

And to deeply understand people we have to let them into our hearts.

Letting people into our hearts

The more I surrender any protection I may be holding on to, and open my heart and let people in, the more I can feel all that they are and all that they bring. This cuts through any pictures I may have of them, and any thoughts about what they may or may not know or understand. I have learnt from experience to never judge people by the way they look, for looks can be deceiving. The more I resonate with people, and just feel who they are and where they are at, the more I feel what is needed for me to bring to them. Then, the words that are needed to be said are just there, as is the way they need to be said, the energy they need to be said in.

This is a process that we develop over time and with experience. There is an art and a science to it, but mainly it is about surrendering to the flow of life, to the ocean of vibration we live in, which is communicating with us all the time.

That vibration flows through us, the love that we live in and are held by and the more we surrender to it, the more we can feel it, and the more we are able to communicate in a clear and loving way with others.

This article was first published on To Medicine with Love


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