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Tips from a Doctor: How to Get Me to Listen to You!

January 26th, 2013 by Deb Wilson

I always love it when I find articles from the doctor’s view point.  It brings a whole different perspective to an issue, particularly when it involves how to effectively interact with your doctor.  I was surprised at some of the suggestions this emergency doc at Brigham and Women’s & Mass General Hospital offers to help you get through to your doctor during an appointment, particularly Tip #4.

Interrupt when interrupted. If your doctor cuts you off when you try to explain your full answer, feel free to interrupt. Pretend you’re having a conversation, even when it feels like you’re being interrogated. For example, if you’re asked, “When did headache start?” rather than responding “10 a.m.,” go ahead and tell your story of how the pain started: “I woke up this morning and I was fine, then I started walking to work and the pain came on suddenly like a lightening bolt striking me.” This is not a new tactic; lawyers will often coach clients in advance to answer yes/no questions with a narrative so that answers can’t be taken out of context. Interrupting is a way to ensure that your entire answer is heard, not just the part that the doctor thinks he wants to hear.

6 Tips to Get Your Doctor to Listen [Leana Wen, M.D.]

Of course, to build a healthy relationship with your doctor, Tip #6 (“Make sure you are courteous and respectful to your doctor”) is also critical.  Dr. Wen’s other four tips?

  • Answer the doctor’s pressing questions first. …
  • Attach a narrative response at the end of these close-ended questions. …
  • Ask your own questions. …
  • Focus on your concerns…..

Who better to give advice on this topic than a doctor! 

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