Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Don't Listen to Hear, But Listen for Understanding"

Seriously, what was I thinking?  That patients discussing a particular drug therapy would want additional pertinent information?  That a thread on a discussion board was for sharing ideas and knowledge?

I'm sad.  I'm blown away.  I'm hurt.  I'm shocked (but shouldn't be).

I need to dust the dirt from my feet as I move on and accept that Patients Like Me is not necessarily made up of, well, patients like me.

"Helping through Sharing" was the phrase used to describe PLM, but what was shared was negativity and accusations which didn't help anyone.

Forgive me while I attempt to "eschew the verbiage" and provide a reminder for myself regarding meaningful conversation.  The following comes from Scarboro Missions.

Guidelines for Listening to Others

These guidelines are designed to facilitate healthy dialogue and deep listening and to create a safe space for meaningful conversation on all levels:

WHEN YOU ARE LISTENING, SUSPEND ASSUMPTIONS - What we assume is often invisible to us. We assume that others have had the same experiences that we have, and that is how we listen to them. Learn to recognize assumptions by noticing when you get upset or annoyed by something someone else is saying. You may be making an assumption. Let it be - suspend it - and resume listening for understanding of the other.

WHEN YOU ARE SPEAKING, EXPRESS YOUR PERSONAL RESPONSE - informed by your tradition, beliefs and practices as you have interpreted them in your life. Speak for yourself. Use "I' language. Take ownership of what you say. Speak from your heart. Notice how often the phrases "We all", "of course", "everyone says", "you know", come into your conversation. The only person you can truly speak for is yourself.

LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGMENT - The purpose of dialogue is to come to an understanding of the other, not to determine whether they are good, bad, right or wrong. If you are sitting there thinking: 'That's good", 'That's bad", "I like that" "I don't like that", then you are having a conversation in your own mind, rather than listening to the speaker. Simply notice when you do this, and return to being present with the speaker.

SUSPEND STATUS - Everyone is an equal partner in the inquiry. There is no seniority or hierarchy. All are colleagues with a mutual quest for insight and clarity. You are each an expert in your life. That is what you bring to the dialogue process.

HONOUR CONFIDENTIALITY - Leave the names of participants in the room so if you share stories or ideas, no one's identity will be revealed. Create a safe space for self-expression.

LISTEN FOR UNDERSTANDING, NOT TO AGREE WITH OR BELIEVE - You do not have to agree with or believe anything that is said. Your job is to listen for understanding.

ASK CLARIFYING OR OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS to assist your understanding and to explore assumptions.

HONOUR SILENCE AND TIME FOR REFLECTION - Notice what wants to be said rather than what you want to say.

ONE PERSON SPEAKS AT A TIME - Pay attention to the flow of the conversation. Notice what patterns emerge from the group. Make sure that each person has an opportunity to speak, while knowing that no one is required to speak.


  1. What am I missing? (Be nice) Did you have an Open Thread? All those guidelines are also needed when chairing a meeting, well, a productive meeting. (or if you end up as a the jury forewoman) Oh, and if you want to stay married to the same person all of your life. Oh, and helps to keep good friendships.

  2. Lisa,

    Well, this post sparked a VERY late night interest in the "topic"...had to go over to PLM and browse to get the full version!

    Soooo....let me say this: I am always caught so off guard when I am criticized for something I truly felt at the time was "good" or "best intentioned". I will often suffer hurt feelings when I feel someone has misinterpreted my deed because I think EVERYONE should already KNOW I mean no harm. The reality is, not everyone DOES know this about me. I can only take pause and examine how I find myself in the misinterpretation...but beyond that, as long as I can truly know my heart and intention was "pure", I will continue to pursue my deed and my opinion.

    I believe this about you as well...your intentions remain without desire to harm and I hope you can chalk this up as just one more experience on your road of "good deeds".

    Be well, my friend,

    Linda D. in Seattle

  3. Diane, you didn't miss anything really. I agree that these 'guidelines' are important in any productive communication or friendship.

    Remember when you asked where are all the patients who participated in clinical trials of Fampridine? Why are they singing the praises?

    Well, I had brief interactions with some of them (and others experimenting with 4-AP). There were some folks who let me know that they didn't appreciate my "attitude" and "opinions."

    Linda, I was actually very surprised and hurt by some of the behavior, especially what was sent to me privately to which I responded. And then the difference between the follow-up private responses and the public display. Reminds me of schoolyard bullies and group think.

    I do my very best to be thorough and objective. If something is simply my opinion, I say so. To suggest that I can't speak to something because I've not tried it myself is discounting my ability to distinguish between anecdotes and claims.

    And then to suggest that I need more hands-on experience to replace my textbook style while questioning my severity of symptoms or lack of spelling it all out in a profile is absurd. But did I argue with those comments, of course not.

    Yes, I was hurt. It's been a very long time since I've been picked on in a school yard. This will go as one small lesson on my road to enlightenment, (or whatever.)

    You ladies make my day. thank you.

  4. oh my...what happened? yes boards and forums can get ugly at times for no reason. just think that it is more about the attacking person than it is about you. actually...having someone go at you is a badge of honor in the internet world. you are risking by putting yourself out there and people are listening. so brush it off and keep doing what you do. you are gonna make a difference. you already do.

  5. Trust yourself. You know that what you do and write you do out of love. You have helped a lot of people along the way so don't let a few get you down.

  6. Ohhh, I got it. I must have read your mind, I kinda posted about "group think," and how I detest it. I have always found myself on top, eventually, and I bet you will too. Don't give up. Their bravado shows fear, you touched a nerve. (No MS pun intended.)

  7. Just comfort yourself that it only proves that they are ugly and stupid, that always works for me. That and my short attention span make it easy to get over people who feel free to act anyway they want online when they would never dare act that way in public -- a true coward. I hate rude people more than anything. I may be a bumbling ass, but I am not rude about it.