As simple as it may sound, listening has become an immensely treasured skill. Some learn it from experience, while some have to be taught. So why has listening become so important these days? The answer is simple - Because listening is becoming obsolete. This sense of obsoletism should actually bring in more listening ears, as they understand the value of being listened to. Once a patient told me I have a heart to help. What I actually did was to listen intently, wanting to understand them. So the question arises, do we need skills to listen? Is it a learnt skill or an acquired skill? It can be a learnt skill depending on the situations of learning.
With every experience with a patient, it amazes me how listening can solve a major part of their problems. Once I was sitting in the reception area, as I always did, when the cabin allotted to me is occupied. Little did I know that this would be another opportunity to help. I saw this young person sobbing beneath their mask. I wouldn’t have noticed if it were not for the occasional sobs. I felt a nudge in my heart. I was reluctant to go to them. What if they ignore me or reject me (mind you, this was during my initial days at work). But thank God I went and introduced myself and asked them if they wanted to talk. They nodded with a yes, I quickly made arrangements for some privacy and initiated the conversation. They started to pour out, they were travelling with a relative and met with a minor accident where the relative was hurt. They were blaming themself for the accident and was burdened with guilt. I listened to them and gave them the space to fully experience what they were feeling and talk it out. They went on to speak about how they had felt like this on other occasions, which, helped them to understand why they felt so guilty. They admitted that they were beginning to feel good talking it out.
During my routine rounds when I meet each patient and tell them about the support team services that are available, most patients respond by saying that they don’t have anything to share. One day, this person also said the same thing, so I nodded and was about to leave, then they added something to the usual answer. And it so happened that they had more and more topics to talk about, every time I visited them. My listening ears helped them unfold past incidents which kept them captive for so long, because everyone hushed them not to speak about it in the past.
I had another counseling patient who was very well informed about their coping resources, techniques to de-stress, etc., but still felt limited. Few sessions into counseling they unburdened to me the worries they carried all by themself, not wanting to burden their spouse who had a new responsibility to take care of. They themself were surprised that they could tell me things they had kept to themself being the only caregiver of the family. All they needed was a safe space to let their mind speak. They didn’t feel it was safe to share with their spouse, fearing the spouse would get tensed. Just speaking out their mind gave them the mental space to actually make use of the resources they were already aware of.
At Shalom Lifecare, we have a Support Team dedicated to listen to patients.
Counselor and Psychotherapist,
Support Team Coordinator.