Pig and the
It can seem
like the odds are stacked against communicating clearly.
Pig!" the lady yelled at an Alabama State Trooper as he drove by.
. "Redneck! Redneck!" the trooper yelled back, highly incensed over being
called a "pig." With his attention thus diverted, he wrecked his car when he ran
into a large pig in the middle of the road.
we discussed in last month's exciting episode, making certain your audience understands
the message you're trying to get across is not always easy. Patients and co-workers
have a multitude of opportunities to misunderstand you. Let me count the ways ...
Answer to a prayer?
There are too many dual meanings involved in the
English language. You may think you're delivering one message, and the recipient
understands an entirely different one as in the story about the preacher
who was concerned about the morals of a young lady in his congregation.
"I want you to know I prayed for you
three times last night," the preacher told her.
"That wasn't necessary, Preacher,"
she coyly replied. "All you had to do was phone and I'd have come right over."
Joe DiPasqua, O.D., of Greenville,
Va., witnessed another example in his office. As his patient (Thelma) left the exam
room, another patient (Diane) who was dilating, said, "How are you Thelma?"
"I'm sorry I didn't say 'hi' earlier,
but I didn't recognize you with your clothes on," replied Thelma. When she noted
the questioning looks on the faces of the other folks in the reception area and
realized what she had said, she hurriedly explained that she and Diane took water
We must also be careful not to over communicate.
Iowa dentist Dr. Duane Schmidt used to give practice management lectures at OptiFair
meetings. One of the stories he told:
"The brand we burn on our cattle is
a C inside an O," a Texas rancher told a fellow rancher. "What brand do you put
"The Amalgamated Bryan, Owens and Farquardt
Ranch of Central Texas, Inc.," he replied.
"How many cattle do you have?"
"Not many. Very few seem to survive
And sometimes, people don't really
want as much information as we give them. "Exactly what is astigmatism?" a friend
once asked me. He was a graduate engineer, so I gave him a five-minute, detailed
explanation. When I finished, he said, "I'm kind of sorry I asked. I didn't want
to know all that much about it!"
To the point
It's also often best to come to the point in patient
communication and not beat around the bush. Another optometrist told me of an occasion
when his secretary wrote a note on a patient's statement, which read, "We are surprised
that we have received no payment on this account."
"No need to be surprised," the patient
wrote back. "The reason you haven't received a payment is that I ain't sent any."
Sometimes the answers you receive are
right clever and help lighten up the day. Gilbert James, O.D., of Adairsville, Ga.,
told me about asking a patient his age.
"I'm at the difficult age of 62," he
replied. "Too young for 'medicare,' too old for 'her to care.'"
OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S
ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@COMCAST.NET
Optometric Management, Issue: October 2006