The following is a short essay I wrote for the self-reflection component of my clinical skills course.
The Ways I See You
Although I feel considerable fondness and admiration for many people around me and even for strangers that I have just met, I sometimes discover, in retrospect, that I have not communicated my feelings toward them. At the very least, I believe I have failed to express my positive feelings in ways that elicit responses that I am looking for or in ways that seem to be detectable to others. This is particularly troublesome when I feel comfortable enough with another person such that I am willing to freely offer constructive criticism. One of my personal tenets is constant self-improvement and helping others to improve as well, but this isn’t always received well when I haven’t properly established my relationship with another individual on amiable grounds.
In failing to adequately express appreciation and admiration, I risk appearing too judgmental: my criticism is unbalanced by commendation. I don’t think I often explicitly explain that my critique is secondary to my admiration of another’s improvement. This is not only a problem with friends and classmates, but this may someday be a problem with patients. Although some physicians discourage “being friends” to one’s patients, there are many aspects of the doctor-patient relationship that resemble friendship. For example, the physician offers critique on the patient’s management of his illness, and hopefully someday, patients will offer more constructive criticism on the approach and care provided by the physician. This interaction should not only be cordial but also warm and marked by care and compassion. I’m concerned that while my assessments may be accurate and my compassion may be visible, the value and worth I find in others may not be as evident.
I am a person with high expectations, for myself and others, and without expressing praise where due for progress, it can be very easy for me to alienate others. This is something that I have only been peripherally aware of until recently reflecting upon my relationships and interactions with others. However, I hope to address this issue more directly by actively identifying positive qualities I find in others and their work. Of my three New Year’s resolutions this year, the only one I have had difficulty with is “To see a little more beauty in this world each day, and to show that beauty to another person.” Up to this point, I have been interpreting this resolution too superficially by seeking beauty in abstraction and nature. However, it makes more sense for me to spend more time seeing the beauty and good in the people around me and the patients I see in the clinics. This will not only make me a better physician in developing my relationships with colleagues and patients, but also a better leader that can more effectively encourage team members and a better person who can forge stronger relationships.