Doctors are generally good at talking. Across 3 decades, iterative studies have shown that physicians often interrupt or talk over patients.1,2  In 2019, a seminal study of primary and specialty care clinicians demonstrated that physicians interrupted patients after a median of 11 seconds. In some ways, listening has become a lost art in medicine.

As pediatric clinicians with clinical and research expertise in pediatrics and communication science, we teach students and health care professionals about the value of saying nothing. Offering quiet presence offers important benefits in medical conversations. Especially when news is difficult, emotions are high, or complex decisions are needed, silence allows patients and families the space to think, sit with information, share their feelings and perspectives, receive support, and grow trust and solidarity. Mindful silence is an accessible and cost-free communication tool, yet it often remains undervalued and underutilized in health care. When...

You do not currently have access to this content.