This and That

Have you ever sought advice for This and received counsel about That? Isn’t it weird?

You call the guy who advertises he fixes gutters and end up with an estimate for him to, say, landscape the strip of property leading to your front door.

Gee, never thought of that! Now the leaky gutters can serve as sprinklers for the soon-to-be installed hosta plants. Perfect!

As one who is a reluctant, indeed recalcitrant, attendee at the physician’s office, my visits tend to be restricted to those occasions involving a complaint.

Sidebar: And isn’t being a physician about the world’s worst job? No one ever stops by just to say how wonderful they feel. Instead, it’s “here’s what’s bothering me today.”

Physicians, as any schoolboy knows, are in short supply. Which is why Physician Assistants were invented. I used to think that’s what Nurses did – assist physicians.

On the rare occasion when I seek the physician’s assistance or Assistant to resolve This medical problem, the visit invariably produces advice about That malady. Didn’t know such a cure or treatment was necessary never mind available, but always handy to have in the old back pocket.

Me: “I’m experiencing itchy hives on my arms and legs.”

PA: “Well, let’s have a look at your stomach.”

Me: “Thursday.”

PA: “Huh?”

Me: “I dunno. ‘Thursday’ makes as much sense as inspecting my abdomen when the complaint is about what’s going on on my arms and legs. Any suggestions for colonoscopy, as long as we’re in the neighborhood?”

Maybe it’s that we’ve abandoned the art of listening. Three quarters of a century’s worth of research converges to reveal we spend 70 percent of our interpersonal communication time in the listening mode.

Or, at least at one time we did. Maybe what was meant by “listening” was “not talking.”

And maybe now, time otherwise squandered on listening is used as rehearsal for what it is one will say next.

Silently: “Hurry up and finish your thought. Because I’ve got something really important to say.”

And by law, This is substituted for That.

Now don’t get me started on The Other Thing.

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