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eDocTalk article

In a diverse world, we need to be talking

August 2016

Lewis Low, M.D.

Back in the 60s, I was the only Chinese-American kid in my Southern California community. I faced prejudice about my heritage, and often my response was to fight back. Though my experience has not been as dramatic as prejudice faced by others in this country, it has given me some insight into just what it is like to be from a different group.

As an adult, I’ve mellowed and matured. Somewhere along the way, my attitude has changed to one where I’ve learned that to use dialogue as a bridge is far more effective in dealing with difficult situations.

Looking at the news today, it’s obvious that rancor and divisiveness are on the rise, and that troubles me. The wounds run deep in many of the most serious concerns facing our world today, and often it seems that people are too angry to talk and listen.

While healing national divisions may feel overwhelming, there are steps we can take in our daily interactions that can make a difference. I suggest we begin by listening and asking questions, and by acknowledging that we may approach a situation or solution from different viewpoints and life experiences.

I recognize that as a physician, I may not always see the perspective of my colleagues. There are times when I read complaints registered against nurses and doctors that seem to be based on miscommunication. I believe there is something productive about having a face-to-face conversation, even if we agree to disagree, in a respectful manner. Most importantly, I find that when we talk, we can often find the common ground that helps everyone.

There’s plenty of talking going on in the world about race, politics, religion and more. I don’t have the answers to these issues. But I know that locally, in our personal and professional lives, it is sometimes more important to listen than to speak.


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