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Words That Harm, Words That Heal


My original plan for this week's blog was to discuss the article “Words That Harm,
and Words That Heal”.   ( Arch Intern Med/ Vol 164, July 12, 2004.)

This commentary was written by four cardiologists. It discusses the impact that
word choices by medical providers have on patients and their family members.
I am attaching this commentary as it is a good read.

Due to the present social environment in our country and some recent personal
observations and experiences I am going to expand this idea to include word and
tone choices that we all have on each other.

Just a few days ago, I was at BJ's. An older  gentleman standing next to me was holding up the
line. He was struggling to find his BJ’s card in an overstuffed wallet. You would
assume that after waiting in line he would have been more prepared. The cashier
was annoyed. She firmly and repeatedly continued to ask for the card as the old
man became more anxious.

I quietly walked over to the cashier and softly said "Can you give my dad a break? He
lost his wife of 71 years yesterday."   For the first time she actually took the time to
look at my teary eyes and his worn solemn face.  Her demeanor changed
immediately.  The cashier chatted friendly small talk.  My dad relaxed and found
his card. “Nice lady" my dad said as the cashier gave me a sad smile and we left.
No one knows the extent of what others are going through in their life.  I do not think
it is possible or even necessary to fully comprehend this.

I do, however, think it is possible and necessary to take a small moment out of our
busy lives and stressful jobs to be a little more aware.  Aware of the need for a
genuine smile, a kind gesture and a focus on the positives not the negatives. Let's not
be harsh or overcritical. Think about the impact your words and especially your tone
may have on someone else.  Remember too, that words have no meaning if the
sentiment behind them is not real. It may not be apparent but what you say and how
you say it can make a real impact on others.

A special thanks to my supportive work friends.  (RIP Mom)



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