Passive manipulation

In my last blog I described my co-worker’s opinion on how he communicates his research to a variety of different audiences. I have to agree that in my limited experience as a researcher, I have also begun to communicate in a similar way.

As many scientific discoveries are originally, or sometimes perpetually, controversial, the presenter of information must think carefully on whom their audience is. When speaking to the general public about getting better informed and taking initiative to learn more about topics they feel strongly opinionated on, it is not wise to berate them in a condescending manner. In this article, Ariel Schwartz speaks on an innovative technique that avoids the destruction of embryos when harvesting stem cells from them. She writes briefly about the process, since she is an editor and not a scientist, and then goes on to discuss the companies difficulties with politics. The company feels that, in regards to their work, “‘There’s a lot of education we have to do to make people aware of how this [works].'” The company understands that the distribution of knowledge between researchers and the public is a two way street and wisely uses words such as “we” to take part of the blame for the problem.

This article exemplifies being “political” and non-aggressive when trying to get someone to do something. In regards to my future as a doctor, I will have to tell patients to stop doing bad things that to me seem obvious but they continue to do. Using articles like this as a template, I understand that I will have to show them why this is bad without demeaning them. Often times unhealthy habits stem from an internal or emotional distress, so by being understanding of them and supportive, “we” (the patient and I) can work together to get them better. While I could try and strike fear into patients, and while this may work on some, I feel that in certain cases (such as this article) it is better to be passive rather than passive aggressive.

When I am a doctor, I will make public reader-friendly articles such as the above article in order to inform patients. I don’t believe that giving patients tips on how to prevent yourself from getting sick will hurt my business or be a waste of my time because in writing those articles I will be forced to look up the most current preventative treatments. By writing those articles I will become a more knowledgable doctor with healthier patients, but to get the information out there in a useable manner I will need to passively force people to get educated.

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One thought on “Passive manipulation

  1. Great discussion; as I was reading, I was wondering about whether the more passive, friendly approach always works, and you answered that question (even if it doesn’t always work, it’s just a generally better way to be). Great example of how you would like to communicate, too.

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