In a comment to my post of yesterday, “Rather – Katie B.” of I’d Rather Be Sailing wrote some things that started me thinking.
(Aside: Carol says I don’t think nearly enough, and when I DO think it’s of the wrong stuff. So thanks, Katie, for getting my process started!)
Well, you can read her whole comment, but it was pretty well summarized in the last sentence: “Waiting in medical offices is pure torture, so if a clerk, technician, nurse or doctor showed a bit of humanness, or humor, I may feel a bit relieved - or at least distracted.”
Carol once took her mother to a doctor who didn’t want to listen to their thoughts about what the problem might be. He stated, “Who’s the doctor here, you or me?” The implication was, “I’m the trained professional and YOU are just lay people, so I will make the diagnosis!”
Carol’s response was, “Yes, but it’s HER body, not yours, and she knows more about how it normally feels and works than you do. She also knows more about how it reacts to certain medications than you do. If you were smart, you’d at least listen. If you don’t agree, we need to see a different doctor.”
(To his credit, he DID apologize, acknowledge her points, and listen.)
Katie’s comments about the need for ALL of the staff at a doctor’s office to show some empathy for their patients are spot on!
Allow me to make a comparison from my profession. As a Human Resources manager, I deal daily with employee concerns and complaints. Often those complaints seem petty to me. Sometimes I think they are groundless!
But these employees are my “customers.” If THEY didn’t think their complaint was serious or significant, they wouldn’t be bringing it to me. To them, it’s a real distraction from working safely and doing their job correctly.
So a big part of my job, as I see it, is to express empathy for their concerns. Even if I don’t agree with them.
Some of my biggest challenges come when a very serious and concerned employee feels he was unfairly cheated out of a few cents on, say, a health insurance claim. I may be thinking, “Gimme a break. Here’s a quarter. Now you’re ahead. Don’t waste my time with petty stuff.”
(Or, to quote an old song as I often do, “Here’s a quarter. Call someone who cares.”)
But I can’t do that. To that employee, it’s a PRINCIPLE. And in principle, he's right—he WAS shorted those few cents according to our insurance contract. So I make the necessary calls and get him his few cents credit. He feels better, and he’ll tell his buddies that the insurance company tried to screw him, but HR got it straightened out.
I’ve had employees tell me, “I know this isn’t much money, but if they’re doing it to me, they’re probably doing it to everybody!”
OK, you get the idea.
Empathy is important. Empathy says, “I care about your feelings. I understand something of your feelings. We’re all in this together.”
Empathy in a doctors’ or dentists’ office is a VERY good thing, and something nobody should be disciplined or fired for.
Joy, Carol and I are proud of you!