Importance of Time and Listening

Young people are new users of health services; they may not have been given many opportunities to make decisions for themselves when they were younger or, indeed, even asked for their opinion. It is therefore important to give them both time to find the words they want to answer with and time to make their own decisions. In adolescent health, listening skills are more important than talking skills! Young people have reported that their own communication skills impact on their ability to communicate with doctors (9). It is therefore important to allow them time to find the words—a useful tip is: after asking a question which is met with initial silence, just to fiddle with your pen for a moment, giving them enough time to find the words to at least make a start at a response. Similarly with decision-making, "You don't need to decide which treatment to start today. I will write to you with the list of options, give you time to think about it, and I will phone you next week, and we can discuss it again."

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