I’ve never understood why people bitch and moan about getting along with each other … getting along with people is really very easy – it really only boils down to two little words.
Two little words will defuse nearly every tense situation. Two little words are enough to puncture a hole in a person’s bad attitude. Two little words will make a person drop their defensive body language and deflate before your very eyes.
Two little words – that’s all it takes.
But the trick is, you have to mean it. Because if you say it wrong, people will pick up on that and they will get even more annoyed/angry/irritated and they will perceive you as a condescending, sarcastic prick.
And that doesn’t help any situation.
Almost every single sentence that comes out of my mouth at work is, “I’m sorry.” And I am TRULY sorry.
–Because I couldn’t get back to them fast enough
–Because they are in pain and I’m powerless to help them
–Because they are scared/concerned about a recent test or what the doctor might find on a test
–Because they’re frustrated with the whole test after test after test and very little answers process.
–Because these tests are necessary in order for the doctor to find out what is wrong and/or eliminate possibilities
–Because people are tired of not being told what is wrong with them.
–Because our doctors are only human and even after all of these tests, they still can’t find anything wrong and patients are desperate for an answer – any answer, that will magically make everything better.
I hear the pain in their voice. I see the fatigue in their eyes. I sense their desperation. And I’m sorry – I’m truly sorry I can’t help them. I wish I could wave a magic wand and help everyone that comes through our doors, but I can’t. All I can do is say with as much sincerity as I can muster, “I’m sorry.”
For even though people WANT to be helped, they also WANT a little empathy. They WANT people to listen to their story and show a little compassion. Some people are STARVED for that little nugget of compassion.
They just WANT to be heard.
And I’m willing to listen to them. Whenever I encounter a “difficult” patient, I simply listen to them. I allow them the time to get whatever is frustrating them off their chest. Sometimes, I wish they wouldn’t share quite SO much of their story with me, but I don’t mind because I can sense they need to talk to someone.
And I’m an easy target.
Am I always in a listening frame of mind? No. Do I wish they would just leave my window so I can get back to work? Absolutely. But then I stop and think, “What if that was someone I loved sitting there? What if that was me? How would I feel if yet another person flicked me from their shoulder like an annoying fly?”
People just want to be HEARD before they want to be HELPED.
So. I say “I’m sorry.”
Because I am.