Helping Your Patients Find Their "Happy"
So, how many times do you work with a patient who is not so secretly downright pissed that they’re in your office? Hopefully not often, but it happens, right? Or, maybe you’re working with that one person who makes the off the cuff remark, “Ugh, I just hate glasses.” (For me, that one cuts like a dagger!! ) Again, hopefully this doesn’t happen often, but unfortunately it does happen, so do you have a strategy to disarm this patient with happiness? Here are some things that have worked for me….
Always start with a smile. People can’t help but be lifted when you won’t stop smiling at them. (or they think you’re crazy, but that’s another story for another time…)
Ask them to tell you about what their worry is
Often this is misguided anyway and if you can solve these barriers, the patient is likely to let their guard down.
For example, maybe they’re concerned that they’re going to have to spend a lot of money. Ok, have the discussion. Talk about cost right out of the gate to get it off the table, if they don’t want to proceed after having that discussion at least you haven’t wasted your time or theirs. Maybe they’re concerned about not liking the way they look in glasses, here’s an opportunity to educate them about choosing the right frame that will flatter them. Most patients have had to choose their own frames in the past, and let’s face it, they don’t know what flatters them, they know what looks good on someone they know and try to duplicate that look on themselves which often has disastrous results. Here is your opportunity to shine, help them choose a frame that hi lights their features and fits them perfectly.
Be frank if necessary
Sometimes you have to change the conversation. I once had a patient who dared tell me “ I hate glasses” to which I responded “Well, I absolutely love glasses, so I guess you’re in the right place.” A look of shock appeared on the patient’s face followed by “I’m not sure you heard me.” To which I responded “Darling, this is my happy place, we don’t say words like “hate” here. So, if you’re in the market for eyeglasses I’d love to help you find something fabulous, but if you’re going to go about it with "hate" in your thoughts, then I’m not sure I can help you.” Now, fortunately, I am my own boss and I’m not looking to fire myself anytime soon, so I understand this tactic isn’t for everyone, but this worked like a charm for me. The patient immediately realized how abrasive they were being and they warmed up instantly.
Realize that everyone has a bad day sometimes
There’s often a difference between a patient who is rude through and through, and one who is simply having a bad day. If you know it is the latter, simply cut them a break and ask them if they’d like to continue the conversation another day, often they will appreciate that you realize something is up and will welcome the chance for a do-over another day. I sometimes use the excuse, “I tell you what, I’ve given you a lot of information to think about and I’m not in any hurry here, so if you’d like a few days to mull it over, I’m absolutely fine with that.” This helps the patient also to hit the reset button and keeps them from making a decision later they may regret (which can help you avoid the dreaded buyers remorse conversation.)
Get excited for them and show it
I’m like a kid in a candy store when it comes to helping a patient find the perfect frame, when we find it, I can’t help but compliment them about how great they look in the frame. Sometimes this is combined with hi-fives and squeals of excitement - all coming from me. This helps the patient have some fun in the process as well as giving them permission to like the way they look in glasses.
When you’re having fun and it shows, your patient is likely going to let their guard down to enjoy the process.
So, at the end of the day, you’re driving the bus. Are you driving your patient to happy-ville or are you letting them drive you to angry-town? You can choose the outcome, make the choice that makes you both feel good!