Some doctors have a great way of interacting with patients. They strike a friendly, humorous (when appropriate) note immediately, and the rest of the proceedings are just like a plain conversation. They can crack jokes that the patients find funny, and always have a wisecrack response to the patient’s jokes. This especially works for the young male residents, who pick up the inner city slang, and can speak that dialect without sounding fake.

I’ve never been like that. I can be professional, calming perhaps; I flatter myself that I’m good at explaining the problem and the potential solutions in understandable terms. But camaraderie and humor are not my suit.

So I was tickled today when I went in to talk to a patient who’d been giving the nurses a bit of a hard time, and suddenly found him laughing as though the two of us had a private joke. “I like your style, doc,” he said. “You and me get along. We understand each other. I like your style.”

I don’t know what I did differently, but it was fun that he was so satisfied. Now when I have to tell him something he won’t like tomorrow, maybe it will go a bit smoother. . .