My office is situated quite close to our main reception area, and if internal doors are left open (much to my annoyance) I can hear pretty much everything that goes on. Sometimes this can be a good thing – because I’ll hear that receptionist who is always pleasant, doesn’t breach anything in reception and regardless of the weather/time of month/state of her hair, she’s always polite and approachable.
However, occasionally I hear things that make me wince. One of the worst things I hear (and this is going to sound quite petty I know… but here you go…) is when a receptionist says, either on the ‘phone or to the patient’s face “what’s yer name?”…… what’s wrong with saying “may I have your name please?”…… I then sound like a droning old nag when I catch said receptionist and just remind her of the ‘rules! They sometimes just slip and I know they’re busy, I don’t want to nag, honestly, I don’t (despite being told by my kids that I do actually like the sound of my own voice – cheeky buggers!) but this just gets my goat.
And I know it isn’t all one-sided. Even a patient who isn’t strictly ‘abusive’ can be abrupt or not really as polite as they could be – they might not even be aware of course. We all know those patients who will come to the desk and say “Prescription Jones…” (names changed to protect identities obviously!) Not a please, thank you, address, first name, nothing… and when the receptionist asks the patient to confirm the first line of the address, an equally abrupt response. No ‘thank you’ as they’re handed their bag of smarties, no “have a nice day” – it could be that they got out of bed on the wrong side, banged their head and tripped up over their pyjama bottoms but is there really any excuse for being impolite?
To be honest, we’re all on automatic pilot and sometimes I don’t think we even realise what comes out of our mouths. I regularly drive home and during the 30-minute journey, give myself a good telling off for opening mouth before engaging brain… but what happened to the usual pleasantries?….passing the time of day… the “how are you?”, “thank you very much”, “see you soon” (we know they’ll be back!)… are our days so busy that we now cannot even muster up so much as a “thanks”?!
Can you imagine sitting in your office and hearing this exchange in reception:-
Recep: Good morning sir, how may I be of assistance?
Patient: I’d like an appointment tomorrow if that’s all right, can you fit me in? I don’t mind who I see… any doc is fine with me…
Recep: Of course sir, bear with me just one moment while I check… ah yes,… tomorrow at 10 am with Dr X… how does that sound?
Patient: Well, that’s super-dooper, thanks ever so…
Recep: You’re very welcome sir, anything else I can help you with?…
Patient: Ah no, you’ve been most kind…….I’ve dropped my prescription in as well, I’ll pick that up next week – there’s no urgency, I have enough to last me for at least 10 days.
Recep: Oh that’s so kind of you sir to be so organised.
Patient: By the way, if you need to cancel that appointment to fit someone else in, you know, if there’s someone who needs the doctor more than me, just give me a tinkle – only too happy to oblige.
Recep: No sir, that’s no problem, we’ve got lots of appointments available sir, no need to worry.
Patient: Well thank you again, you have a lovely day
Recep: You too sir…
Meanwhile, I’m in my office trying to catch that flying pig…
By Nicola Davies