Usable Insight – Listening Into People’s Eyes

When you listen for the pain, hurt and fear in people, it is always there.
And when people sense you doing that with no other motive than to alleviate all of those,
they will lower their walls and reveal them to you.
- Dr. Edwin Shneidman (1918 – 2009) American Psychologist, Suicidologist and mentor

“You listen into people’s eyes,” Doc Barham told me.

I said: “What?”

“When you sit down with people what you first notice is people’s eyes and then you look and listen into them for their hurt, pain, fear, anger and terror and when you do, they share whatever it is with you.  And then they exhale, feel relieved and open themselves up to you.  That is your secret sauce,” he explained.

Doc Barham is CEO of Xtraordinary Outcomes ( a company which identifies what makes individuals, companies and organizations extraordinary and in doing so, helps them to come from that special “tipping point” place to become even better.  He had been interviewing me about how I work with patients and seem to be able to get through to some of the toughest ones.

Like many “talents” or skills that people have, it was spawned out of a terrible experience.  I hadn’t made the connection until Doc identified the way that I listen.

Nearly thirty years ago, I had one of the more awful experiences in my career as a psychiatrist.  I had been paged to go up to a patient’s room at UCLA Medical Center  to “okay” the soft restraints the surgeons had placed on him plus the major tranquilizer they had then put into his IV.  The patient, who I will call Mr. Jones, was a fifty something patient with AIDS (just after it was identified as an illness), with a terrible infection, who had been placed on a respirator.  He had been pulling out his IV’s and then pulling at his respirator and was in a state of what the surgeons called psychotic agitation.

When I entered Mr. Jones’ room, he was lying with his arms and legs restrained.  His eyes were as big as saucers and they seemed to be screaming out to me.  His eyes in fact grabbed hold of mine as I kept repeating, “What are you trying to tell me?”  Because of the respirator, he couldn’t speak.  All he could do was groan in agony.  I put a pen in his right hand close to the restraint on that wrist and put a piece of paper near it so he could write.  All he could do was scribble something that didn’t make any sense.  I again repeated, “What is it?”  And again he couldn’t communicate what it was.

I concluded that what the surgeons had said was true and that Mr. Jones was psychotic and needing the restraints and the tranquilizer.  I told him: “Mr. Jones, you have pulling your IV’s out and pulling at your respirator tubing and we needed to restrain you and have also given you a tranquilizer to help you calm down.  When you calm down we will take you off the restraints.  I will keep checking in to see how you are doing. Do you have any questions?”  All Mr. Jones could do was stare at me with his eyes wide open terror which were now beginning to show the early signs of being tranquilized.

I checked in with him and his surgeons over the next couple days, but he was mostly sleeping.

Two days later I received a page from his attending chief surgical resident who in a curt manner said to me: “Hey, Mr. Jones is up, alert, off the respirator and commanded us to call YOU.  So I think you should come and see him as soon as you are able.”

With trepidation, I went up to Mr. Jones’ room.  When I arrived he was seated up in his bed. In a non-psychotic and very determined he way grabbed onto my eyes with his, said: “Please sit down,” and with those eyes placed me in a chair.

His eyes never left mine and I could not move mine away.  Then in no uncertain terms and with an emphatic voice he said: “What I was trying to tell you was that a piece of the respirator tubing had broken off and was stuck in my throat.  You do need to know that I will kill myself before I ever get into that situation again.  Do you understand?”

My eye winced and teared up as he revealed the answer to the mystery from my original visit.  I wanted to look away, but couldn’t.  Instead I said, “I’m so sorry that I didn’t know that.  And, yes, I do understand that you will kill yourself before you have to go through something like that again.”

And that is when I began to “listen into people’s eyes.”  I just didn’t know what to call it.

Epilogue: I might not have the opportunity to have had this experience if I were at UCLA today, because it is has undergone a transformation in the past four years where they have become completely patient and patient family centric as documented in the NY Times best selling book, Prescription for Excellence: Leadership Lessons for Creating a World Class Customer Experience from UCLA Health System by Joseph Michelli.


Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: , , , ,

71 Responses to “Usable Insight – Listening Into People’s Eyes”

  1. 蒐證 Says:

    Good idea! Can be considered a learned thing, ok.

  2. Abigail Says:

    Hell yes, i come short tell something like this but didnt desire time, may i repost this
    Mark Goulston » Blog Archive » Usable Insight – Listening Into People’s Eyes

  3. anunturi matrimoniale Says:

    You probably haven’t meant to do so, however I believe you have managed to express the mind-set that lots of people are in. The sense of wanting to assist, however not figuring out how or the place, is one thing a number of us are going through.

  4. Shiloh Kirkwood Says:

    Great information. Lucky me I reach on your internet site by accident, I bookmarked it.

  5. Mika Says:

    seems interesting! I bookmarked it, I will read it later. keep up the good work lads!

  6. Chandelier Cleaning Says:

    Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality. useful job for bringing something new to the internet!

  7. Danny Nguyen Says:

    Hey you I’m a really big fan of this blog. Hopefully you keep updating here, I definitely enjoy it a lot.

  8. Adriene Ching Says:

    Good post, I’ve saved as a favorite this blog so hopefully I’ll discover a lot more on this subject matter in the future!

  9. Evan Pralle Says:

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for your provided information.

  10. Stormy Says:

    The thing is that i am not sure what i feel after reading your post, but i think it is a good way to describe it, so if your post makes me this feeling i guess your post is great.

  11. Epifania Fulfer Says:

    Genuinely amazing in addition to informative short article listed here. I recently wanted to remark. are grateful for offering this. I’ve book-marked your blog in addition to I’ll probably be back to see a lot more in the foreseeable future my friend! Furthermore great shades for the page layout, it’s quite simple within the eyes.

  12. Tyisha Says:

    Awesome content, We are viewing back again usually to look for improvements.

  13. Pia Baumer Says:

    I received good information from your weblog

  14. Lucas Formella Says:

    I just added this website to my google reader, great stuff. Can’t get enough!

  15. Shaun Crady Says:

    after study a few of the blog posts on your website now, and i truly like your way of blogging. i bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. pls check out my web site as well and let me know what you think.

  16. watches Says:

    Have you ever considered about adding a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and everything. But imagine if you added some great images or videos to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and clips, this site could definitely be one of the most beneficial in its niche. Good blog!

  17. Xexilia Says:

    There are no words to describe how bdoaicous this is.

  18. Richard Seery Says:

    Whats up! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the nice info you’ve got here on this article. I shall be returning again to your site for more soon

  19. Pam Desormo Says:

    Good share. I normally would write more however , I am browsing on my little smart phone. I’ve book-marked this site and thus hope to return once I am home.

  20. Celestine Amundsen Says:

    Some genuinely prime content on this internet site , saved to fav.

  21. Dolores E. Benton Says:

    Hello I liked your site. I’m glad that I did find it. There’s just so much to learn out there. (One can never know too much). Thanks for sharing your knowledge and views with me and everyone else! I look forward to reading more in the future. :-)

  22. Antoinette Roblez Says:

    What’s Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve found It absolutely helpful and it has helped me out loads. I hope to contribute & assist other users like its aided me. Good job.

  23. Dudley Vanhooser Says:

    excellent post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector do not notice this. You should continue your writing. I’m confident, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

  24. Nancie Studzinski Says:

    I think other web site proprietors should take this site as an model, very clean and magnificent user genial style and design, as well as the content. You are an expert in this topic!

  25. Arnoldo Dewulf Says:

    There couple of fascinating points with time in this post but I don’t know if these center to heart. There’s some validity but I am going to take hold opinion until I explore it further. Excellent article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner likewise

  26. Rutha Selvey Says:

    Hi, adore your site..please do research out my internet site at conditions and escape from your comment. thanks

  27. Kimbery Vanhamme Says:

    Hey! I simply would like to give an enormous thumbs up for the great info you could have right here on this post. I will likely be coming again to your blog for extra soon.

  28. Rhea Marcial Says:

    amazing men I came across your web site through yahoo, I discovered your own entry intriguing hence We added a new Trackback for it on my personal weblog

  29. Luther Peel Says:

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

  30. uzdrowisko Says:

    You can certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  31. Lasandra Cake Says:

    I have been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles or blog posts on this sort of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site. Reading this information So i’m happy to convey that I’ve a very good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I most certainly will make sure to do not forget this web site and give it a look on a constant basis.

  32. Neva Ort Says:

    Wow! what an idea ! What a concept ! Beautiful . Amazing.

  33. rtyecript Says:

    I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

  34. Descargar Says:

    Excellent stuff ! i will suscribed to your RSS dude ;)

  35. Sharyl Boughman Says:

    I am glad that I found this web site, precisely the right information that I was looking for! .

  36. Ronnie Says:

    What a super blog!

  37. Sandy Butzke Says:

    I like this post, enjoyed this one appreciate it for posting .

  38. Helga Bastine Says:

    Howdy! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came to look it over. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Terrific blog and excellent style and design.

  39. Nolan Knippenberg Says:

    I really like your writing style, fantastic info, appreciate it for posting :D.

  40. DO choi trung thu Says:

    Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is excellent, as well as the content!

  41. Christine Sabatino Says:

    I ran across this post earlier today while at the office. Very helpful. Sent the link to myself and will likely bookmark it when I go back home.

  42. Conan 2011+napisy Says:

    I used to be very pleased to find this web-site.I needed to thanks to your time for this excellent learn!! I positively enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

  43. Ilda Gurley Says:

    I see something really intriguing about your web website so I saved to bookmarks .

  44. Bertram Ludeke Says:

    Only wanna say that this is invaluable , Thanks for taking your time to write this.

  45. Marjorie Phanthanouvon Says:

    I simply wanted to write a quick note to express gratitude to you for these awesome ways you are placing at this website.

  46. Annis Wardsworth Says:

    great post. Ne’er knew this, thankyou for letting me know.

  47. Ed Reed Jersey Says:

    Sometimes non-standard due to you during another remarkable article. Where else could anybody pry out that benevolent of intelligence in such a great path of writing.

  48. how to lose fat Says:

    Nice post. I learn one thing more difficult on completely different blogs everyday. It would at all times be stimulating to read content from other writers and apply slightly something from their store. I’d want to use some with the content material on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll provide you with a hyperlink on your internet blog. Thanks for sharing.

  49. Elmira Gestes Says:

    Hey,friends, your article is very good. I learned so much from it. I hope u can write more ones like it.I’m a shy girl,just graduated from university.I’m very hope I can make friends with u.don’t forget look at my blog.

  50. porno Says:

    Thank you godd

  51. jocuri cu impuscaturi Says:

    Nice blog site here! Also your site loads up fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours. Kind regards and keep posting things like in Mark Goulston » Blog Archive » Usable Insight – Listening Into People’s Eyes.

  52. Jerald Sepvlieda Says:

    hello!,I love your writing very much! percentage we be in contact extra approximately your article on AOL? I need an expert on this space to resolve my problem. May be that is you! Taking a look ahead to look you.

  53. Online Games Says:

    I’ve learned new things via your site Mark Goulston » Blog Archive » Usable Insight – Listening Into People’s Eyes. I will bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly. Thanks for the recommendations you have provided in Mark Goulston » Blog Archive » Usable Insight – Listening Into People’s Eyes.

  54. Juanita Vence Says:

    nice stuff you have posted here.. it seems you have put great effort in writing this

  55. Jahvid Best Jersey Says:

    Very excessive transmit to depend on.. I am exceedingly impressed with this article. Looking looking for future posts.

  56. wynajem busów warszawa Says:

    Really instructive and good anatomical structure of written content , now that’s user genial (:.

  57. Wiley Billafuerte Says:

    Straight to the point and well written! Why can鈥檛 everyone else be like this?

  58. Ted Mckillips Says:

    good post.Never knew this, appreciate it for letting me know.

  59. Yong Fauteux Says:

    This was a actually quite beneficial post. In theory I’d prefer to publish like this also – getting time and actual effort to make a good piece of writing but what can I say I procrastinate alot and by no means appear to obtain one thing done.

  60. Kirsten Corza Says:

    My weight has been annoying me for ever. Yesterday I discovered this website that has many lose weight item information that has assisted me figure out which route to take on my fat loss adventure.

  61. Domonique Kaas Says:

    My weight has been annoying me for ever. Last week I came across this online store that has great weight loss product reviews that has helped me decide which way to go on my weight loss adventure.

  62. rokettube Says:

    Thank you gold and porno, sex, sikis, porn, rokettube, xxx, xhamster, türk videos new adress

  63. James Harrison Jersey Says:

    There are some provocative points in time therein article but I don’t be informed if I convoy all of them heart to mid-section .

  64. xrumer link list Says:

    I’m still learning from you, as I’m improving myself. I absolutely liked reading all that is written on your site.Keep the tips coming. I loved it!

  65. Drew Vinciguerra Says:

    interesting insights you are sharing. I love the way you are writing it. Is there any way I could find out for more?

  66. Drusilla Golian Says:

    You have some seriously useful information composed here. Great job and keep posting good stuff.

  67. Buford Kurdyla Says:

    Yeah bookmaking this wasn’t a bad decision outstanding post! .

  68. odzywki Says:

    I am forever thought about this, regards for posting .

  69. aminokwasy Says:

    Hello there, You have done a fantastic job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I am sure they’ll be benefited from this website.

  70. Malik Kabel Says:

    I like the items you put in here. Very relevant information. Consider yourself bookmarked.

  71. Jon Gepner Says:

    I am glad to be a visitant of this staring blog ! , thankyou for this rare info ! .