Speaking words

So, I had to stand in front of my peers and present an inservice this week.

Rather than a complex orthopaedic case, or an unusual health journey, I was asked to present on language. On how we, as clinicians, communicate information to our patients. And the processes that occur to allow for our patients to hear what we say.

You think I’d have public speaking under my belt by now. I mean, I teach over 100 people each week. The difference is that those 100 or so punters have their faces soft and their eyes closed.

And I can get away with using moonbeam and motor neurone in the same sentence.

Apparently, we fear public speaking right up there with failure, ridicule, loneliness and death. All these qualities ramped up a tad when you’re presenting to those who probably know more than you.

At least, your perception of this fact is so.

Anyway, I was kinda nervous, so I started with a joke. It involved a patient, a surgeon and the word penis. All 3 factors making it seem an appropriate opener for us working in public health. They seemed to laugh. They seemed to relax. I seemed to open.

So I started to talk.

I talked about how between 10 and 30% of what we say is actually heard. About how humans plan – based around a sense of self – what we do how we do it and the roles in which we play. About how when we lose the what-it-feels-like-to-be-me, our sense of self is made vulnerable. Making it tricky to know where we’re going. How we’re moving. Why we’re living.

Or why we’re not.

As I spoke to my colleagues, into their open eyes and upright stance, their faces seemed to soften. They started to share in their own clinical practice. The stories. The metaphors. The language. Hopefully cementing the intention of my inservice.

Think standing twists, throat openers and antar mouna.

How we think, how we feel and how we act all interplay together to create the person we are. Our thoughts can hold so much power, determining our feelings and our behaviour.

And sometimes our words can hold so much power as to influence the self of others.

The buddha states, “Don’t speak. Unless it improves on silence.”

As I finished their working day, we paused briefly. Maybe they were reflecting on the joke about the penis. Maybe they were reflecting on the information on the stats. Maybe they were reflecting on the what-it-feels-like-to-be-me.

I invited them to forget what they think they know. To listen beyond thought to what they might hear.

To remind them of the supports that they have, and the knowledge that they own – to remember who they are

And who we all are.


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