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On being present, not perfect | Elaine Meyer | TEDxLongwood

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This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Elaine is on a mission to change the world...one conversation at a time. In her intimate talk, Dr. Meyer draws on both professional and personal experience to illustrate the profound gaps in healthcare communication and how to close them. Dr. Elaine C. Meyer is the co-founder and director of the Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice (www.ipepweb.org) at Boston Children's Hospital and an Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. The first of its kind, IPEP has trained thousands of health care practitioners across the Harvard teaching hospitals and the globe in the relational and communication competencies essential to conducting challenging conversations. About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
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Text Comments (26)
Emmeline Sprig (3 months ago)
FemininEm (1 year ago)
Patricia Schissel (1 year ago)
I love the term "the emotional standard of care" - wonderful talk!!
Hi Elaine, I am reminded again of the import of your teaching and being present. Hobart and Westmead Kids Hospital, Australia, was a few years ago now. Coming back to your message is a reflection.
Nthabeleng Komane (2 years ago)
Emotional Intelligence... Thank Dr Meyer
Noe brucales jr (2 years ago)
This was very insightful. Thank you Dr Meyer
Sally Kuslis (3 years ago)
Excellent, Elaine.
Brian Carter (3 years ago)
This TEDx talk continues to be powerful and inspiring - in part because of the dynamic and compelling presentation made by Dr. Meyer, and also because of its simplicity and truth. "Being Present - not perfect" should resonate with health care professionals and students across disciplines - and yield insights to empathic healing. Thanks, Elaine!
Liat Watson (4 years ago)
Elaine, thank you. This is a wonderful talk which I'll be sharing it with my contacts.  The power of humanity in healthcare cannot be underestimated.  The anaesthetist speaking gently to you over your shoulder would have been an incredibly powerful and welcome human connection at a time of great anxiety and heartache.  I've come to think of anxiety in a healthcare setting to be like adding the wind-chill factor to an already cold day... the effects of both being disproportionately devastating. If, however, someone can help to lessen your anxiety (the wind), you're more able to cope with what's happening (the cold). 
Emma Merry (4 years ago)
Thank you Elaine, a beautiful illustration of what we should target.
Joni Johnson (4 years ago)
The compassion and empathy Elaine exudes is exactly what is missing from much of contemporary healthCARE. Although we have incredible technology it's often the human component that is most profound. Elaine shares how a simple act of compassion in those utterly overwhelming moments; an ear or a shoulder, can be so important. Whether one is a healthcare professional or not, we all need to be aware that being open in difficult moments is neither risky nor unprofessional, but is a healing opportunity for both giver and receiver. Thank you Elaine, for reminding us what matters.
tricia ashe (4 years ago)
Thank you Elaine one of the most powerful meaningful presentations ever! Sacred space is a BLESSING to be called upon  being present is the gift..... playing it forward:)
Roxanne Daleo (4 years ago)
Elaine, Indeed, "one conversation at a time" makes a difference in the world of those we touch with heart and presence! Thank you for your leading us in this valuable conversation. I will pass it on...
K Cronin (4 years ago)
Thank you, Elaine. All these well-deserved superlatives are understatements. At a time when the patient encounter itself has been ruthlessly reduced to a ten-minute checklist, and patient autonomy has bred similar clinician autonomy, you have brilliantly reminded us that medicine used to be more of an art than a science. And more importantly, you demonstrate just how simple it is to make an immense difference.
Maria Teresa Canha (4 years ago)
Wow Elaine! That was so powerful! What a blessing to me and I am sure to so many others! I am definitely inspired to be a better more compassionate listener after listening to you share your story :-)
Daniel Kamin (4 years ago)
Thanks for this talk Dr Meyer.  Emotional competence as an equal partner to procedural and diagnostic competence.  I think Maya Angelou also said that people will forget what you said, what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.  Sobering and inspiring.   
Mark J. Fisher (4 years ago)
Communication is much more than an exchange of information. Powerful and meaningful message as well as an innovative approach to patient/parent/family and provider communication teaching/training.
Robert Truog (4 years ago)
Having taught professionalism and communication skills for many years, I have been frustrated at how poorly our current approach – emphasizing the memorization of rules, mnemonics, phrases, and scripts – have prepared clinicians for the difficult conversations they must have with patients and families in their everyday practice. Dr. Meyer’s inspiring message powerfully shows us how allowing ourselves to deeply engage with patients and families in relationship – with courage, heart, and brains – can truly transform the quality of communication in healthcare, one conversation at a time.
Barbara Domingue (4 years ago)
Elaine, What a powerful and important message -- made deeper by your respect and thoughtful attitude! Thank you for sharing this important message!
Julie Strandberg (4 years ago)
Thanks, Elaine, for such an inspiring piece.  Your generosity in sharing your own stories gives the talk even more impact.  It is a powerful message that I will share with students I am working with on the arts and healing, but the message is one that applies equally to our "everyday," non-professional lives.  We need to be present for each other.
Hope Kellman (4 years ago)
Thank you for sharing this message with all of us. I, too, had a similar experience after my miscarriage. I continued to have pain after my D&C. I called the clinician a few days later to report my pain and was told that some people deal with their loss by experiencing physical pain. After I developed a fever, I was sent to the ED. Turns out there was fetal tissue left in my uterus. A second D&C had to be performed. I never received an apology from my clinician. That experience has made me a better nurse and human being. Being present in my professional and personal life is the key to life.  
Maureen Coombs (4 years ago)
What a powerful message... Be present, not perfect. What a change that would make to people, to society, to humanity if we learnt from Elaine's message.
David Kadmon (4 years ago)
What a wonderful heartwarming inspiring talk!  Everything is so true and right on the mark.  I hope many physicians watch this.  I hope I am one of those "present, but not perfect" physicians.  Truly inspiring.  It is amazing how life events shape us and make us compassionate people.  That is why for me, Rony is my hero and inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing this, Dave
Barry Prizant (4 years ago)
What an incredible message to live by for all of us.  Elaine, this talk will inspire all who have devoted their lives to bettering the lives of others.  It will help us all to rededicate ourselves to be the best we can be, not only due to our technical skills, but to our humanity. 
Laura Rossi (4 years ago)
Watch this TEDx talk NOW and you'll realize why being fully 100% PRESENT is all that matters -- in work, family, friendship, life. We are called to be PRESENT not PERFECT -- it's when you are present that the most impactful moments of humanity happen and present themselves.  Elaine teaches us that living fiercely every single minute is what we are all called to do in this life -- doctors, nurses, lawyers, parents, teachers, students, families. I promise you will see the world in a different way after watching Elaine's personal TEDx talk.  #TEDxLongwood #TEDxTalk #Ted
Amy L (4 years ago)
Elaine gives amazing insight into what it takes to have the difficult conversations in our lives.  I strongly urge you to take 20 minutes to learn from this amazing woman.  

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