Before we even begin – it’s important to note that you’re more than just a Doctor. You’re the person who restores order to the lives of people who are suffering.
As a healthcare provider, you have an important job to do. You help people manage their conditions and feel better about them. But sometimes, it can be challenging for patients to understand what’s going on with their bodies or why they need certain treatments. In these cases, it can be helpful to use active listening techniques to make sure you get the information you need without causing tension or frustration between the two of you.
At some point, you will encounter a difficult patient, it’s par for the course. But why might your patient be difficult?
They may be…
- Feeling overly anxious
- Frustrated with the care they’re receiving or have received in the past
- Angry with their diagnosis
- Defensive over their lifestyle
- Fearful about their family’s reaction
- Distrustful of the opinion of the medical sector
Finding out why they’re acting out isn’t the most important aspect of these encounters. It’s how you deal with them during this engagement that counts.
Be mindful of your body language.
When you are dealing with a patient who is being difficult, it’s important to remember that your body language can have a considerable impact on the situation. For example, if you are in a position of authority and the patient is rude or disrespectful, use your status to your advantage. Staying calm and professional will help get the situation under control, while crossing your arms or leaning back in your chair may send a message of disrespect or boredom (both of which can make an already tense situation worse).
Repeat back what they said to you.
This is called active listening, and it’s a great way to show your patient that you are listening to them. Active listening also helps clarify things for both of you: if they say something confusing or vague, repeating their statement will help shed light on what they mean. A patient who feels heard and understood will be more likely to listen when you give advice or guidance afterward.
Listen and focus on how to solve their problem.
When dealing with a difficult patient, your first instinct might be to find out what’s wrong and solve it. This is natural but can also cause more problems than it solves. Instead of trying to fix the problem right away, try listening and understanding what they need from you as their healthcare provider. Here are some tips for doing so:
Listen carefully. Don’t interrupt them or show any emotions that could be perceived as judgmental or critical. Avoid giving advice until they have finished talking—even if they seem confused, upset, or angry at times! If they ask questions during the conversation (especially if it seems repetitive), pause instead of jumping straight into an answer; this allows them to feel heard without being rushed through a diagnosis process which could make things worse by making them feel rushed or unheard.
Show empathy for their situation—don’t just assume because someone is complaining about something that there must be some sort of underlying issue at play (elderly patients often complain about many different things without having any single problem); show compassion even when nothing seems wrong on paper or during physical exams.
Don’t judge or criticize anything; give everyone equal treatment regardless of age – even if someone looks like an “old lady” don’t assume she doesn’t know better than anyone else how her medications should work/make her feel (it could be causing confusion).
Active listening is important when dealing with people who are upset.
Active listening is a technique that allows you to focus intently on what the other person is saying. It helps you follow what they’re saying, and it helps them feel heard by giving them your full attention. When someone says something difficult or upsetting, active listening can help put them at ease by showing them that you care about their feelings and are willing to listen carefully.
The key points of active listening include:
- Nodding your head as they speak
- Not interrupting
- Avoiding distractions like checking your phone or closing off while they talk (e.g., looking away from their face)
There’s no way to avoid the inevitable interaction with difficult patients. While caring for people you may not always agree with is always at the forefront of a medical professional’s mind, it’s a preoccupation that can cloud your judgment. Objectivity, honesty, empathy, and your undivided attention are the roads to giving each of your patients the best care.