I’ve spent a lot of blog space talking about relationships and the importance of communicating clearly. How you have to give a damn about your client to make them feel cared for. Here’s a perfect example of what happens when you don’t pay attention to your client, when you are focusing on results and not relationships.
It was time for my yearly physical. In my coverage plan, the yearly physical starts with lab tests, then a doctor’s appointment, then any additional work.
Today, I’m sitting in the doctor’s office, when she breezes in, frowning at her computer screen. No eye contact. Cursory greeting. Then, “I have your lab results here.” Short pause. “Do you have a will written up? A medical directive? Because you need them.”
Luckily, I am a healthy person. Rarely sick. But suddenly, here I was, needing a will and a medical directive. And damn, I am feeling much better than last week, when I was still sick. And now I’m . . .dying?
I fix the doctor with a level gaze and say, “I do have a will, a medical directive, and clearly spelled out code directives. [Under what circumstances I do not want anyone to take any measures to keep me alive.] Why do you ask?”
She looked up from her computer. “We ask all patients to furnish them and I see that we don’t have yours on file. So bring them in to us in the next week or so.”
What a second ago had been a death sentence was now a minor administrative matter. The doctor then slapped the blood pressure cuff on me and discovered my blood pressure was higher than normal. This time, I wasn’t concerned at all.
“You just scared me–asking for my medical directive without telling me about the lab results first. So I’d expect my blood pressure to go up.”
She eyed me doubtfully. “Well, you got that completely wrong. Your labs are all normal. But your blood pressure may need monitoring.”
So there it was. I was wrong, and my blood pressure had nothing to do with a shock, because the doctor didn’t perceive her request as being scarey. So if I perceived it that way, well, I was wrong.
She agreed to take the blood pressure again in a few minutes. When she did it, the pressure was also within normal limits.
The doctor wasn’t concerned about how I might take her message. She knew what she meant, and any other meaning was simply wrong. Easily brushed off.
And that’s why she is losing me as a client. If everything is a business decision for her, and I’m a client, I want better customer service. From another provider. Medical practice is a two-way relationship. And as long as I’m on the fuzzy end of that lollipop, I’m seeing someone else.
—Quinn McDonald is a healthy human being. If she’s treated decently.