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As health professionals, we are trained to use our minds in the listening process to listen evaluatively. Listening evaluatively enables us to perform two very important functions within the medical model of patient care:

1. Assess our client’s nutritional health

2. Formulate an appropriate intervention, education or prescription.

Our skill as evaluative listeners is a hand in glove match for performing the role of helper in the medical model. However, when we start to segue into the client centered model, evaluative listening can often prove to be something of a hindrance. Let’s explore why.

Through our training, we are often oriented towards spending valuable listening energy formulating responses and advice whilst our client is talking. Our busy and eager ‘helping mind’ can really get in the way of effectively attending to our clients’ messages. This can cost us valuable engagement and can also set us up to work much harder than our client.

Let’s consider too that when our clients are struggling it can be so tempting to step out of listening and engage in some quick ‘installation therapy’ i.e. telling the client what we know to make them ‘better’. And we often know a lot of really useful stuff! But as many of us have learned the hard way, installation therapy rarely works……….

…….our client may simply not be ready to hear what we know
……what we know may be irrelevant (ouch)
………..or our client may have a much better idea of what they need to do!

So when we need to be listening, what are we to do with our expert knowledge and urge to help? Neither are wrong, it’s just how we harness them that keeps them useful. As a place to start, it can be helpful to remember the power of keeping our client front and center and our ideas second place. Read on for some tips on this challenging process…

Read Issue 11

#active listening #giving advice