You may recall an earlier View entitled "Check Your Shoes". It was about how everything we show in our business (decor, cards, letterhead, and even our shoes) impacts the relationship with our clients. What we show in attitude and dress is in a sense a reflection of how we feel about the other person. Remember your very first date? I'll bet you thought a lot about what to wear, worried about saying the wrong thing, and wondered if your date would like you. If you know someone well like a family member or very close friend, you can be more relaxed (but not too relaxed or you inadvertently send the wrong message). Over time you make many deposits into your emotional bank account with these close friends allowing you to withdraw draw on the account repeatedly without running the risk of being overdrawn. But with a person you don't know at all, you have to establish the account and make some large initial deposits in a hurry. One way to make such a deposit is through everything you show.
Pam's right knee was very swollen. She walked as if a large cement block was tied to her leg causing her to sling it out in front of her then hurriedly working to catch up to it. It looked very uncomfortable. She made her way into the exam room and settled into a chair. She looked up and firmly stated, "I consider myself to be an athlete. You know, really active and I want my rehab to be active. The therapist I'm seeing acts like he is on auto-pilot. He never even touched me. That is why I'm here."
Pam had an anterior cruciate reconstruction about a month prior to seeing me. As an avid skier and runner she had spent many years with a loose and unpredictable knee. She had finally decided to do something about it and elected for the surgery. Afterward, her surgeon sent her to his facility of choice for rehab. This is where the story gets interesting.
She described to me her first physical therapy encounter. "I arrived at the clinic and someone handed me a clip board with a sheet of exercises on it. The paper had 'ACL Protocol' at the top. I was told to go to a certain spot in the room and wait there for someone to help me. There were a lot of people in the clinic but it was very quiet, cluttered, and sort of gloomy. The therapist, I guess, since he didn't tell me who he was, showed up after about 15 minutes. He read the sheet to me and told me to start with the first exercise and to do them in order. He didn't ask me any questions and he never even touched me. I followed his instructions but I really had no idea if I did them correctly or not. I finished the exercises and waited a while but he never came back so I left. I already had made an appointment for a week later, like it said on the sheet, so I went back. In that visit, he asked me to take the same sheet and do the exercises again. Then he added another one. I figured this was probably going to be the same kind of thing so I just left."
You may be wondering "did this really happen?" Unless Pam had some reason to fabricate such a story, I suspect what she described really occurred. For the sake of learning though, let's assume it did happen. What did Pam see from this business? A serious lack of interest. What was done and whether the exercises were good, bad, right or wrong is not the issue. Building a long, successful and rewarding career comes from building relationships. You can make the most mundane activity highly engaging but you have to care and show you care. Pam's remark that "he never even touched me" was not a request to be touched. It was a request to get in touch.
Your work environment may not be exactly what you desire, the referrals you receive may not be what you desire, or your income may not be what you desire - today. To create the environment that makes your heart sing, to work with clients that bring a smile to your face, and earn the pay you think you deserve, make sure you are in touch with what your clients need. There are a number of ways to help people feel better and do more, but there is only one way to make them know you care. You have to show it.
Make Today Count.
Author. Teacher. Therapist.