My job has trained me to gather information and formulate a treatment plan in fifteen minutes or less. Given a knowledge of my patients, a good sense of the gestalt, and a keen intuition, I can accomplish this most of the time. There are a few downsides of this technique:
I quickly ‘get it” which means extra data is not necessary. I often interrupt circumstantial conversations to get people back on the topic at hand ala Dragnet “Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts”.
My listening is mostly ‘goal oriented’ rather than listening for listening sake.
While these tools are efficacious for getting the job done and staying on time (to the delight of patients and bosses) they are lousy for social intercourse outside of the office setting.
Someone suffers the most. Bless his heart, he is working now, and he comes home with many tirades and tales about his day. He is a good narrator; he tells a good story. Often these vignettes involve impudent convention attenders or rude old people at theatre where he ushers. I have to focus and really listen and not cut him off or ‘give structure’. He is not a patient, after all! The nasty customers and co-workers he describes often make my blood boil and I want to knock heads together. However I know he is not asking for advice; he is asking me to listen.
I don’t know where this is going but I think it is a reminder to me not to bring work habits home. At home I can eat without rushing and listen without guidance or problem solving. At home I don’t have to be ‘on time’.