Wanted to Pass this On

Posted on Jul 18, 2018

Communication is Important to Teaching, Listening is Important to Learning




Having the ability to communicate well is probably the single most important skill any professional needs to have for career success, especially for a doctor.  The word doctor is derived from a word meaning “to teach” and teaching must involve communication.  Much of our time is spent in counseling, education, and teaching the patient about the condition we are working to improve. A personal connection allows our patients to take explanations and treatment option explanation and make their own choice of how to proceed.  Fred Rogers can teach us about personal connection, it is important to listen to his instruction.

Inherent in effective communication are:

1. Listening skills. Being a good and sincere listener is the cornerstone of great communication. We are all very good at talking, but it's the listeners who are actually the best communicators. Studies have shown that the average physician interrupts their patient about 20 seconds into talking, not nearly long enough if somebody has something important they are trying to tell us.

2. Interpersonal skills. How we come across when we talk with people is something most of us are unaware of. Very subtle verbal and non-verbal behaviors will determine on a psychological level, whether people are likely to warm to you, especially in a professional situation. There are a myriad of factors including tone of voice, how you acknowledge what the other person is saying, and even how you smile. 

3. Empathy and emotional intelligence. Empathy is a trait that is also intrinsically linked. Emotional intelligence is simply the ability to recognize your own, and other peoples' emotions, and accordingly, guide your own behavior. Healthcare being the unique field it is, improving this part of your character will greatly enable you to show more compassion — which is a crucial aspect of being a great clinician.

Taking the concepts of communication even further, for the millions of adults who grew up watching Mr. Rogers on public television, Fred Rogers knew the importance of clear and effective communication.  He insisted that every word be scrutinized closely, because he knew that the children who made up the core of his audience tend to hear things literally.  He took great pains not to mislead or confuse them.  His team of writers joked that his on-air manner of speaking amounted to a distinct language they called “Freddish.”

There were nine steps for translating concepts into Freddish.  These nine steps are positive steps for anyone desiring to improving their communication skills:

  • “State the idea you wish to express as clearly as possible, and in terms preschoolers can understand.” 

Example: It is dangerous to be unhealthy.

  • “Rephrase it in a positive manner.”

It is good to be healthy.

  • “Rephrase the idea, bearing in mind that many cannot yet make subtle distinctions and need to be redirected to authorities they trust.” 

 Ask your doctor of chiropractic how to be healthy.

  • “Rephrase your idea to eliminate all elements that could be considered prescriptive, directive, or instructive.” 

Your doctor of chiropractic will tell you how to be healthy.

  • “Rephrase any element that suggests a certainty,” for example the use of the word will in the example statement. 

Your doctor of chiropractic can tell you how to be healthy.

  • “Rephrase your idea to eliminate any element that may not apply to all.” 

Your favorite doctor can tell you how to be healthy.

  • “Add a simple motivational idea that gives a reason to follow your advice.” 

Your favorite doctors can tell you how to be healthy. It is good to listen to them.

  • “Rephrase your new statement, repeating the first step.”

Your favorite doctors can tell you how to be healthy. It is important to try to listen to them.

  • “Rephrase your idea a final time, relating it to some phase of development that a preschooler can understand.”

Your favorite doctors can tell you how to be healthy. It is important to try to listen to them; listening is important to learning.


As a doctor, part of our duty is to educate–to instruct–our patients.  The ability to effectively communicate is important to instruction.  Mr. Rogers successfully demonstrated this to millions for over 30 years.

Sources: https://www.medpagetoday.com/blogs/kevinmd/72132 


<< Back