Twisted Words Put Me Off

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Twisted Words Put Me Off

Within the past few weeks, I have had one phone conversation, and have exchanged an email, with two different people who are hoping to and working to become advocates, both exchanges which resulted in very negative takeaways on my part. And then I wondered – how many of the rest of us do this same thing, even if we never intend to come across the way we do? And if we do it, no matter how unintentionally, does it give patient advocacy a bad name, or a black eye? Those twisted words are actually a response, or the intent of a response most of us run into every day. All that is required to fix it is a slight difference in response which results in a huge difference in the impression it makes. It’s the difference between: you misunderstood me (or) you read that wrong  (both of which blame the listener or reader)   — vs —   I must not have been clear (or) let me rephrase that (both of which take responsibility for the clarification) Here’s what I mean: The phone discussion was about patient advocacy education. The caller wanted to know what courses I thought she should take. That’s not a determination I can make for her, nor could I spend an hour on the phone with her to figure it out. But I did direct her to our gap analysis article called “Choosing the Best Health or Patient Advocacy Educational Program for You” which could help her sort out the right answers for herself. “You misunderstood me!” she replied. I’m not asking you to send me somewhere else. I’m asking you to tell me the answer.” Ouch! All of a sudden it was my fault she didn’t have the answers. Hearing “you misunderstood me” instantly put me on the defensive, as if I had done something wrong. Very uncomfortable. I had to wonder whether she would talk to a client, or a provider, or anyone else she would deal with in the healthcare system in the same way. And if so, what is the ripple effect…


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