Listening is what we do least. Most of us are anxious to give our opinion, share our experiences, and show off our knowledge. We want to be admired, appreciated, and acknowledged. We go from one person to another looking for approval, anxious to hear a word of gratitude.
We use social media – jump from Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn – and we like it when others “Like” us and share our posts. We want to reach as many people as we can and have many friends, but at the end of the day we are left alone with our iPhone wondering where all those friends really are. Why don’t they call me to talk to me? Why don’t they meet me for coffee so we can have a face-to-face interaction?
People are desperate to be heard and to be validated so they can feel good about themselves. How much do we listen?
Unfortunately, most of us have lost the ability to listen and to be silent.
L I S T E N
S I L E N T
Did you notice that these words have the same letters? When the placement of the letters is changed, listen becomes silent. To hear others, we must be still, open our hearts and not only our ears, and quiet our mind. We must get rid of the chatter and listen with intent, silence, and with love and empathy.
No need to fix anything – just understand, create a safe space, and embrace the suffering of the other person.
The world is hungry for people who listen, understand, and care. People are desperate to be heard; if only we gave them the chance, just a few moments of our life – real caring moments.
I understood at that point what compassion was; it is much more powerful than empathy. Empathy is when we can walk a mile in someone’s shoes and feel their pain, and struggle to make them feel better, but we are unable to be real effective. That can create empathy fatigue and burnout.
Compassion is when we understand their pain and can relieve their suffering with a word, a touch, or just a listening ear. There is no compassion fatigue; on the contrary, compassion gives us the chance to experience genuine happiness because we had the chance to be with someone else in a positive way.
As Bernie Siegel said, “truth without compassion is hostility.”
We can give a patient the bad news of having cancer, and instead of leaving the room, wait for them to assimilate the idea, and integrate it. This is devastating news for someone, and they could be in denial for a while, they can get angry, or start crying. We have to be compassionate enough to stay with them, see them cry, hold their hand if needed and tell them that you understand and will do what you can to relieve their suffering.
Sometimes emotional suffering is more devastating than the physical pain. People worry about their loved ones, about cost, about their ability to cope, about a support system.
Most of us physician did not learn compassion in medical school, most of us feel uncomfortable if a patient starts to cry, and we leave the room or call the nurse for support. Yes this is unfortunate and it is one of the reasons why 55% of physicians have symptoms of burnout.
Despite the death of his father at age five, Assaad Mounzer, M.D., a native of Lebanon grew up in a loving home.
But with a civil war raging in his homeland, he moved to the United States of America, where he became an Urologist.
He discovered that patients appreciated his listening skills, and his compassion. He was so dedicated that eventually he began to suffer from empathy fatigue. While he did not realize it at the time, he was bringing home his patient’s suffering and problems.
In this book he describes his own struggles and his journey from suffering to acceptance and peace. As a student of mindfulness and a teacher, he shares what he has learned so others can:
• overcome depression;
• increase daily enthusiasm;
• face feelings of fear and self-doubt; and
• build resilience to get through difficult times.
Filled with inspirational quotes, reflections, and exercises to make mindfulness a part of your life, this book will move you from Burnout to Engagement.
About the Author
Dr. Mounzer is a motivational speaker and a talented coach. He is a semi-retired Urologist, spending his free time teaching Mindfulness to help people build resilience, avoid burnout and deal better with stress.
He is a Certified MLP (Mindful Life Program) Mindfulness teacher, a Certified Professional Life Coach, and member of ICF (International Coach Federation). He holds a Master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology with emphasis on Consciousness, Health and Healing from the University of Santa Monica, CA. He uses his compassion and caring to support his clients, so they can reach their potential, in their personal and professional development. He says about himself:
“I am a student of life. I am your partner in discovering new opportunities for personal and professional growth. I am an expert in compassionate listening and I walk with you the extra mile--to support you in clarifying your goals, taking effective actions and living a meaningful life in alignment with your values and purpose.”
Dr. Mounzer is also a philanthropist, he is the founder of “The Mounzer Foundation for Service and Education”, and he volunteers with Rotary International to spread peace, and make this world a better place.