Learning how to be a good communicator in any situation is a life skill that most of us constantly struggle with. Let’s face it, conveying information to another person is not only difficult, but it can also be a little touchy when trying to determine exactly what is, and is not appropriate to say in a variety of different situations.
So it’s no wonder that talking to your medical provider is frequently one of the most difficult types of discussions any man is likely to encounter. Figuring-out how to navigate a consultation with your personal provider, though, is well worth putting some thought into, and something on which your very life may depend.
The Best Policy
What is perhaps the most challenging part of learning to talk to your doctor is overcoming the reluctance to be completely honest and revealing in a social situation. After all, in nearly all settings where you are conversing with another person, your tendency is to not be totally forthcoming since, frankly, your deepest, truest thoughts are your business alone.
However, what is crucial to remember when you withhold information from your provider is that, in a sense, you are really withholding care for yourself. That is, your provider is a trained medical professional whose knowledge and skill can transform an understanding of men’s health issues into an effective treatment designed to resolve problems. But he or she can only perform this function if they understands you as well as you understand yourself.
This is why the central precept of any discussion you have with your provider is – be totally honest. Your honesty is the most important contribution you can make when talking to a someone about your health issues. And to help you in being comfortable with being completely honest, just keep in-mind that this is not a social relationship; it’s a confidential medical relationship.
Don’t Sugar-coat It
It is somewhat ironic that most men expect their doctors to be completely forthcoming with them when discussing a diagnosis, yet often fail to return the favor when communicating the vital information he needs in evaluating men’s health issues.
Certainly discussing such sensitive personal issues as urinary tract problems, erectile dysfunction, or low testosterone can be somewhat intimidating, but remember that by candidly addressing these, and other types of men’s health issues, you are actually giving yourself the information you need to overcome them.
With such an approach in-mind, there here are 5 tips that can assist you in establishing the type of provider-patient relationship that will lead to an accurate assessment of any men’s health issues you may be experiencing. They include:
- Prepare an agenda – you have a limited time with your provider. Prioritize the points you want to talk about and write them down so you won’t forget.
- Be detailed – be prepared to discuss what types of men’s health issues you’re experiencing, in very specific ways. The more precise you can be in describing these issues, the more accurate your provider’s diagnosis will be.
- Insist on understanding – make sure you fully grasp what you are being told. One good way to be sure that you do, is to repeat back what was said in your own words and confirm that your understanding is accurate.
- Ask hard questions – make sure to ask why certain treatments and tests are required, and anything else that will help you understand your diagnosis. When you understand the “why” of your treatment, it is much more likely that you will follow the treatment plan.
- Finally, remember that your provider is human. Being cordial and friendly will put you both at ease and open the doors for real communication. This will foster a partnership as opposed to a paternalistic relationship.
The bottom line is that the key to effectively treating men’s health issues rests largely with your ability to talk about them. It’s a skill worth cultivating.