The other day my friend reminded me of the urgent need for NLP skills for doctors. She was having surgery and her anesthesiologist told her that the medication that he was giving her to put her under was the “same stuff Michael Jackson liked.” With wide eyes, she looked at the doctor and said, “You know it didn’t turn out too well for him, right?”
I had a very similar experience with an anesthesiologist. He told me that my surgery would be the most painful experience that I would ever endure and I would walk for weeks after. I looked at him in horror and asked him to leave. I then asked my nurse to get the surgeon who was doing the procedure and said, “You have to undo all of the stuff that the other doctor just told me, or I’m not going to do the surgery.” He assured me that the procedure was not that painful and that I could be walking with a brace in 3-4 days.
I had another friend who received a frantic phone call from her doctor saying that her blood work came back and showed signs of cancer and she needed to get this checked out immediately. My friend actually had to calm the doctor down long enough to get the full details of what the blood test showed. Afterwards, she looked it up on the internet and sure enough, one of the causes of this type of blood work results could be cancer. And there were twenty other possibilities too. Had my friend trusted the word of her doctor, she would have probably put herself in to a full panic attack with endless worry over the results.
It’s called “bedside manner” and a lot of doctors don’t have it or at least don’t have a positive form of it. Doctors sometimes cause more harm with their bedside manner than good.
Imagine if they doctor who was administering my friend’s anesthesia would have said, “You’re going to just relax so deeply in a few moments and when you wake up, you’ll be alert, calm and at ease.” Wouldn’t you like to hear that?
Or imagine my doctor saying to me, “Some people may think that this surgery is pretty painful. It isn’t going to be for you, is it? You’re going to be up on your feet and walking around in your brace in no time, aren’t you?” Can you imagine how, just as I’m drifting off to sleep, that image of me being pain-free and walking around would have helped my recovery?
And what about my friend with the scary blood test results? What would have happened if the doctor would have said, “I received your blood work back and there’s over a dozen explanations for the results that we got. I just want to be sure of what we are dealing with so can I schedule a quick appointment for you to see this specialist so we can clear this up?” It says all that it needs to without causing unnecessary alarm or panic.
Because doctors don’t normally study NLP or ways of speaking that maintain rapport and a positive outlook, I believe it’s healthy to question authority. Just because they are doctors doesn’t mean they are right. And until a doctor gives me positive, helpful suggestions instead of doom and gloom predictions, I will continue to proactively manage their language.