Two Ears – One Mouth: The Art of Listening

Two Ears – One Mouth: The Art of Listening


While the EKG is mostly objective, assessing the cardiac patient’s pain and “anginal equivalents” are mostly subjective.

Henry J. L. Marriott is considered to be the one of the best EKG educators of all time. His sagely wisdom is to:

  1. accurately read the EKG and,
  2. “ask the patient how they feel and listen intently without interruption for 5 minutes – you will get everything you need for the correct diagnosis.”

Here are some tips:

  1. Make eye contact.
  2. Don’t interrupt.
  3. Practice “Active Listening.”
  4. Show you understand.
  5. Listen without thinking ahead or making knee-jerk diagnoses.
  6. Listen without judgement.
  7. Watch non-verbal communication.
  8. Be still and quiet – no fidgeting, cells phones or other distractions.
  9. Don’t be preoccupied with charting – you can do that later.

And I would add, ask “is there anything else I need to know to help you?” Practice the same active listening skills with the patient’s primary family member or caretaker.

Let’s up our empathy and improve our patient care by listening well!


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