My mom had a kidney transplant when I was in 2nd grade. Three decades of recovery have meant many doctors, medications, and side effects. A few weeks back, I went with her to a cardiology appointment after she had some concerning blood work. Needing to meet with a medical specialist usually is unwanted and stressful. As we walked into Research Hospital, she shared a not-so-great experience with another cardiologist years back in the same office.
My mom recalled meeting with a stone-faced doctor that rushed in with big words, negative outcomes, and a level of seriousness that didn’t help the patient encounter. My mom has no problem pushing back if a provider is not treating her like a human, so halfway through the doctor’s lecture she interjected,
“I’d feel a whole better if you just smiled.”
Slowly the physician softened, they mutually discussed a plan, and both went their way.
In the service industry, you often present people with potentially bad news — a doctor with a diagnosis, a mechanic with a needed repair, or a financial planner telling you the need to cut back on your coffee spending.
But, the “bad news” is only half the story. How you share information is just as important as the information you share. It may not change the news, but it can considerably change how someone takes the news with them.
I’m trying to get better at this myself. So, even when you are busy or just trying to get through the day, try your best to at least “crack a smile” before you tell someone something they might not want to hear.
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