Recently, I have found myself talking to all kinds of humans. Nothing unusual about that you might think. However, the humans concerned all have one thing in common – they would like to keep me alive and in one piece.
Some of them are likely to have more success than others. That is not a comment on their professional experience or their qualifications – it is a comment on how they make me feel. I have actually felt like shaking a few of them warmly by the throat – and a couple of them have left me feeling scared and threatened.
I am the sort of person who feels the most comfortable if I am allowed to play an active role in any decisions you make about me. This may involve me asking questions so I can get things straight in my brain. This may involve me telling you things which may at first appear totally unrelated to the subject under discussion (this is because I am trying to find the connection between whatever we are talking about and another subject which I know will affect it).
I couldn’t care less if you tell me what your name is – I care about what you intend to do to me and why.
Me talking and asking questions means that I feel comfortable in your presence.
When it comes to you asking me questions please make me feel as though you are interested in my answers. The more like a “Lab Rat” I feel the less helpful our encounter will be to both of us.
If you give me shocking news don’t deliver it coldly and then immediately ask if I have any questions. This is when I need the most time to process what I have learned so I can make a decision as to what happens next. It is not the best idea in the world to drop a bombshell on me then reinforce that by doing things (or getting other people to do them) without my consent. In one instance when this happened I honestly thought my time was up – particularly because what the Medical Professional didn’t know (and I did) was that a very close relative of mine had had the same information as I did and died within a month.
I know all the above is about things which happened in a Medical setting but the same checklist can be applied to nearly every setting where people are expected to make decisions which could have a major impact on their life.
If you are faced with a patient, customer, service user, etc, the best way to get the most out of your dealings with them is to make them feel comfortable with you.
I admit that not everyone is like me and wants to know what is going on all the time. However, the best way to scare me is to make me feel like a spare part. I ask questions not because I want to know what is going to happen to me – I ask them because I need to know what is going to happen to me (I have had way too much experience of feeling like a passenger in my own life when other people made decisions about me).
So – next time you are in a situation where the person you are talking to starts bombarding you with all kinds of questions – instead of wishing they would shut up – try making sure they understand exactly what is going on. They will thank you for it – they will also have more reason to cooperate with you as well.