Communication is the topic du jour. And it has been for a little while too. I’m reading old posts from Laika’s MedLibLog and it was this post from 2008 about an article in NEJM called Etiquette-Based Medicine that got me thinking. The author, Dr Michael Khan, wrote that patients don’t complain about clinicians not being empathic or not understanding them, they complain about clinicians not looking at them, not smiling or not introducing themselves. As a patient, I haven’t had the bad luck to be stuck with a clincian who stared at a computer screen throughout my visit (yet…), but I imagine with would be annoying and probably disconcerting for many people. So many people seem to be more and more addicted to looking at computer screens than communicating with others in real life. How often do you bump into someone who is walking with their head down focusing on their screen? And worse yet, not even apologise? Last week I went to Stephen K Amos’ gig at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and one of the things he commented about was communication – “talk to people!” This was in context of being sent a break-up text via mobile phone. Then he merged that into talking to young people about sex. Lots of young people in the audience and young adults he talked to before his performances revealed that their parents weren’t giving them the ‘facts of life’ talk. Amos didn’t have one either from his parents (I did and I bet he is younger than me). Even though it may be awkward and/or embaressing, talk to people! Leave the screens and communciate in real life. It is how we have relationships.
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