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How To Make Friends With A Doctor's Staff


Making a friend with the people in your doctor's office is very important to getting medical care on your schedule. This is particularly true about the person who sets appointments and the office manager or other person who gets things done.  No matter how strict a doctor's rules, people can exercise discretion as to who gets an appointment and whether your requests can be handled over the phone or whether you have to make an appointment.

Following are a few tips to consider. You won't always make a friend, but you have nothing to lose by trying.

  • Get and use the person's name.
    • People at the other end of a phone often react negatively when they are asked their name. To reduce the chances of a problem, consider saying something like:"My name is Cathy Merritt. Would you mind telling me your name please?"
    • If you don't understand the name, or how to pronounce it, ask the person to spell it for you or to pronounce it again. If the name if the least bit unusual, it couldn't hurt to let the person know if you find the name interesting.
  • Speak in a friendly manner.
    • Be friendly and expect friendliness in return. You'll usually get it.
    • Being friendly doesn't mean you shouldn't be assertive. In fact, be as assertive as necessary to get what you want. After all, you are the customer
  • Engage the person. Open yourself.
    • If you open yourself, the odds are she or he will do the same. Let him or her know facts that probably apply to them as well such as "I'm a mother, or a dad…"
    • Empathize with the person at the first opportunity: such as, "Gee, I bet you have a hard job." or "You must be VERY busy. Thank you for being so patient with me."
  • Ask for help.
    • It usually works to ask for help to get what you need, and in the shortest amount of time possible.  "Can you help me?" or "I need your help."
    • It helps to add a reason for why you need what you need and when you need it. 
  • Sympathize with the pressure the person is under.
    • People in most doctors' offices are under pressure to get more done in less time. Work loads can be unbearable. In addition to a normally packed schedule, there are unforeseen emergencies to deal with. It helps if you let the person know you understand the pressure and appreciate the time and consideration they are showing you.
  • Use anger sparingly.
    • Don't be obnoxious or treat the person as an adversary.
    • There are times when controlled anger works, but use anger sparingly. Once anger is out of the bag, you can't take it back.
    • If, in reviewing your problem, you feel yourself getting upset all over again, make sure the person knows your anger isn't directed at him or her personally. "Please don't think I'm angry at you personally, Carla. I know you're trying to help me. It just gets me so frustrated sometimes."
  • Stay with your friend.
    • Let the person know that whenever you have questions, you will call him or her. The odds are the person will be more responsible in her dealings with you.
    • Get the person's direct phone number or extension.
    • When you do make the repeat call, ask for your friend. If he or she's not available, find out when the person will be and call back.
  • Find out the best means of communication. If it's not the phone, still call ocassionally to keep the relationship alive.
    • It may be faster and easier to fax or email the person. If so, use the system he or she suggests. However, make periodic calls to your friend when you need something to help keep the relationship alive. As you know, relationships need attention.

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