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The hand on the door handle moment

Picture this.

The Doctor is about to open the door to the terminally ill patient. She has had a frantic day. Her daughter has been taken ill at school. Her husband is away. Finances are stretched at home so she is working long hours. And this is not the first such patient she has visited today.

So she puts her hand on the door handle and prepares to go in.

And she waits.

Gathers herself. Takes a deep breath. Thinks about what she’s going to say. To the patient and the relatives.

And then she goes in.

It’s the “Hand on the door handle moment”.

The moment of pausing. Empathising. Forgetting my problems and thinking about yours.

Most of us don’t live with this pressure. This need to switch gear.

Maybe all we do is send emails back and forth.

Boy, there’s a space where the “Hand on the door handle moment” needs to kick in!

Ever sent an email in haste, and then regretted it later? Me too.

I had a recent case where my hand was metaphorically on the door handle for about 5 hours. I drafted the email, went for a long walk. Went for another long walk. Redrafted the email. Then sent it. Good call.

I wonder how many stupid arguments arise in life due to this inability to observe a simple rule.

A simple rule about stopping for long enough to think about the impact of what I do or say next.

I am not a Doctor visiting a terminally ill patient. But I do live in a world of relationships.

And if they are to be constructive, there are, let’s be honest, times when I just need to linger with my hand on the door handle a while longer.

Just like the over-stretched Doctor.