A cautionary #NYT tale: Be sure your patients are more than numbers on a checklist.

Remember Alan Alda?

Screenshot 2017-06-09 16.36.10Actor Alan Alda (think Hawkeye Pierce of M*A*S*H, or more recently Alan Fitch on NBC’s The Blacklist) is the author of If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating” (Random House).

Alan Alda wasn’t too thrilled about his last visit to the dentist.

He’s also a dental patient who, in a recent New York Times interview, offers solid advice about communication with everyone who takes a seat in your operatory chair:

“I’ve come to see my exchange with the dentist that day as something that happens frequently in life — a brief encounter that threatens a relationship’s delicate tissue; the tender frenum of friendship. I wasn’t looking for friendship that day, but at least I wanted the feeling that I was actually being seen by him. Even though his gaze was intense, I realized that as far as he was concerned I wasn’t really there — not as a person. If I was there at all, I was something on his checklist. He was speaking into the vague mist of interpersonal nothingness.

That few minutes in his chair has become a symbol for me of really, really poor communication and of what causes it: not really seeing the other person.”


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