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ADVANCE Outlook: OT

Guest blog: "Hey, Listen Up!"

Published October 7, 2011 4:43 PM by Jill Glomstad

The following is a guest blog from Anthony Cirillo, FACHE, ABC:  

Have you ever heard of CPA? No not your accountant. It stands for Continuous Partial Attention a "condition" where we continue to e-mail, text message, and blog, while supposedly listening to someone else. 

Here's another. It's called Surfer's Voice - talking or listening to someone on the phone while continuing to surf the internet, read e-mail, IM or text. You can hear the tapping on the keyboard. 

Absent Presence is another name for these syndromes. Constantly being accessible makes us inaccessible. 

I read these by Kay Lindahl, CLP, Founder of The Listening Center in Long Beach, CA and author of The Sacred Art of Listening.

And while we are all guilty of these actions, it occurred to me that in healthcare the result of these syndromes can not only affect your brand and reputation but also clearly impact patient and resident care.

As a person outside of long-term care, how many times have you been frustrated with your physician or hospital provider, who you perceive as not listening to you? I bet a lot.

But how many times do you look at your own behavior when it comes to staff, residents, volunteers, vendors and family members?

Health care has been notorious for the lack of communication between management and staff. And communicating when you have only been half-listening is worse. And when it comes to the care of residents and families, well not listening can be dangerous.

According to Lindahl, you can restore the art of listening. Citing from her article in Loren Ekroth's Better Conversations newsletter:

  • To become a listening presence you need to prepare-not only to listen to others but also to listen to yourself.
  • Just as you take time to write, practice and polish a speech, you need to take time to practice and prepare to listen.
  • Three practices are essential elements of this discipline: cultivating silence, slowing down to reflect, and becoming present.

There is no listening without silence, and yet silence is often hard to come by in our society. It requires taking time to slow down and listen.  This is the practice of stopping for a moment, being quiet, learning to listen to the silence. 

Take some time each day to practice being silent. Lindahl offers this: Stop, breathe deeply, and attend to the moment.

You need to be conscious about listening to make it a discipline. In doing so you will become a more effective leader by becoming a more effective listener.

Anthony Cirillo is the about.com expert in assisted living. A speaker, health care consultant, senior advocate and blogger, he consults with long-term care facilities and is available for management retreats and association keynotes. He is the author of "Who Moved My Dentures?" His company, Fast Forward Consulting empowers organizations to change the healthcare experience and leverage it in their marketing. For more information go to More at www.4wardfast.com and www.anthonycirillo.com.

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