As an allied health professional, I know that communication is an important tool. You need to communicate well with other disciplinary teams to deliver a holistic care for the patient. You also need to communicate well with your patient to understand their concerns. During my student days, however, I always received feedback from my clinical supervisors that I was too quiet and I needed to speak up more. In an environment that requires teamwork, I was finding it difficult to settle myself into the team fast enough to feel comfortable.

That changed when I had the opportunity to visit an overseas hospital in the United Kingdom for a month for clinical placement. One day, a patient I was caring for during that period brought her grandchildren along with her. She saw me and motioned for me to come over. It was her last day of treatment. She held my hands and said, “Girls, this is Atiqah. She’s the girl I was telling you about who is from Singapore. She’s been with me from the start till the end. And I am so thankful for that.”

I was and am still a very reserved person. Having a patient acknowledge my individual presence when I’m part of a team was encouraging. I’d never felt noticed in that way. Though we didn’t talk much, she said I listened to her very well, despite being a part of a team.

It was then when I realized I don’t need to talk as much as extroverts do to be good at my job. As an introvert, I listen well. This is my strength. And this is how I will contribute as a team member and as a healthcare professional for my patients. Sometimes, people forget that communication also involves listening. In today’s busy and extroverted world, I vow to be that listening ear for my patients.

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  • Thank you for the story. It’s comforting to be able to relate to someone else. I’ve had the same kind of experience. I have always thought that I don’t get noticed well to earn people’s respect. But, one stranger in a similar incident proved that wrong. Focusing more on my strength, not what I am missing, make me stand out. And, I have already earned the praise of being a compassionate listener.

  • thanks for the story! i did it too..

  • Brian Pugliese

    Thanks for this story. Listening is an underutilized and underappreciated skill in this world today but your story illustrates the potential impact.

  • Janice Mauk Enzone

    Bravo. Thank you for sharing your story, Atiqah. Patients need exactly what you are giving, your listening presence.

  • Marlana Sherman

    I really liked this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Denise Tanaka

    Especially as a caregiver in a health care setting, the people receiving care are at their most vulnerable. They can feel lost, confused, and often ignored when nurses or doctors are running off to administer to others. It is so critical for them to have someone who listens.

  • Weston

    This deeply resonates with me, thanks so much for sharing, Atiqah.

  • Kenna Specht Coltman

    So true! Listening – truly listening – is not common. All too often, people only half-listen while trying to decide what to say next.As introverts, I think we listen more fully. I’ve heard it called active listening – listening without an agenda – and I’ve been coaching the management team I work with about this. It’s important to really listen to what the employees are saying. Often times, that’s really all they want – to know that someone is really listening.

  • GlassMask

    Listening is something of a lost art these days. We are taught to spend our non-speaking time planning what we’ll say when the other person’s mouth stops moving. It’s pretty difficult to listen when you’re in your head like that.

    I do improv comedy, and one of the basic skills, very hard to teach to some people, is that you have to look the other person in the eye, listen to what they say while observing how they say it, then respond to their comments. That’s how we do our scenes, and that’s how dialogues are supposed to work.

    Be glad if you know how to listen. It is so rare that those who receive it are always pleasantly surprised!