Do we Talk or Listen about Health and Wellness?

Tina Butt

I’m back for Blog post #3!

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love to talk; and boy can I talk! As I sit here writing this post, I actually have Laryngitis! My husband says that I talk just to hear myself; my daughter gets annoyed when I am awake with her in the mornings “you talk too much”. So why is it that as I sit here staring at my computer screen, I am actually having a hard time deciding what topic I should “Talk” about for this blog post? There are so many different thoughts running through my head I guess I cannot pick just one!

So lets talk about communication! There is one thing that I love to do and that is to teach ways to stay healthy and prevent disease while promoting overall wellness. Teaching means talking. I will teach anyone that wants to listen! Over the years I have learned to not always be the talker, but I need to be a listener as well. As I have mentioned before, I am a Nurse Practitioner and have been working full time in this role since 2006. Prior to that I was a full time Registered Nurse for 6 years. The best part about my job is being able to sit down and listen to my patients. However, being present for long periods of time with my patients is not always possible due to my time constraints.

As a health and wellness coach and healthcare advocate, I get to listen to my clients on their time. I get to be present for them, focus on them. I am able to guide them, educate them and most of all listen to them. Being a wellness coach means I get to empower people and help them grow, achieve, heal and ultimately, hold themselves accountable. I also get to educate and guide my clients while to learn how to advocate for themselves and their overall health and wellness.

Being a good listener can be just the thing someone needs at the time you are present with them. When we stop talking and we listen to someone, there are so many things we can learn from each other. The problem in today’s world is the time constraints we all have. People are so busy and rushed, they don’t take the time to listen. Since I am most familiar with the medical field, lets talk about communication between a patient and their healthcare team. When a patient schedules an appointment, they usually do so to accomplish one thing, getting help to feel better. During the appointment they have just a few minutes to share their concerns with their provider before the provider needs to move on to their next appointment. This makes them feel rushed, therefore they forget why they were there in the first place. I read a study from 2016 that stated the average length of time a patient spends in the medical providers office is approximately 16-21 min, that is from check in to check out. Only 8 minutes on average are spent with the actual provider. Now, think about what you would be able to talk about in 8 minutes when you have multiple medical issues and you are not feeling well, at the same time you are feeling rushed.

As I mentioned earlier, I can talk alot and get a lot of information across if necessary in 8 minutes. But, most people struggle with this time constraint. They leave the appointment which they payed for, missed work for, or had to cancel prior arrangements for, with so many questions unanswered. Usually the same questions they went to see the provider for to begin with. So my questions are:

How can they get their questions heard?

How can they speak up for themselves?

My thoughts are, these patients as I occasionally do, get overwhelmed with the rush of the appointment. The yes/no questions asked by the provider; the obvious impatience of the provider. I recently saw a medical specialist that showed me the exit door without showing any concern for the look on my face of discernment regarding my medical diagnosis(or lack of). Another provider interrupted my explanation of symptoms only to speak her “opinion” of my symptoms.

No matter what profession you are in, no matter what role you are playing(parent, child, spouse, employee, employer), you need to make the people that approach you for help and guidance feel welcome, comforted and supported. You do this by listening, not always talking.

The conclusion is, it should not matter what else is going on in your own head, stop and listen to the people that come to you for guidance. They need your help. They need your encouragement. You may be the one that helps them to overcome the one obstacle they have been struggling with. Sometimes you don’t need to talk, you just need to listen.

To the person that is struggling to get your voice heard, SPEAK UP! Make people listen to you, do not take no for an answer. Do not walk away until you feel that you are getting the help that you are searching for. If you don’t speak up for yourself who will?

Can you imagine what changes you could make in your life if you found that one person that will listen to you Talk? Can you give an example?