Teaching people to respect you

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 17, 2003



&uot;Yea, what do you want?&uot; was the greeting recently received when I made a call to a local business. Stunned by the rudeness and lack of professionalism (and convinced I must have dialed the wrong number), I abruptly hung up the phone. Waiting only a moment, I called back, only to be greeted with a similar response by another employee.


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This time I asked the person to clarify that I had in fact reached the correct business. The employee confirmed that I had, but in the process let me know their disgust with my need to ask such a question, as reflective of their tone. I can’t imagine this kind of customer service is good for business – and I know it’s not good when you’re on the receiving end.

As a customer I choose not to be treated that way. So, I have decided to take a stand!

I believe you teach people how to treat you. If you let people treat you poorly (without provocation), it is my belief they will continue to do so. Of course in my mind, poor treatment may include: rude behavior, poor manners, lack of attention, a poor attitude or apathy (it depends on the situation). Some people allow themselves to be doormats.

I am certainly not one of them. Therefore, I have decided to do something about it.

Every time I am treated rudely by the grocery store cashier, the bank teller or a waitress, I’m going to make sure they know the value of their service – or rather, lack thereof – to me.

For example, if the waitress brings me steak sauce after I have eaten my steak (and have waited patiently the time it takes to knit a sweater) – then I guess she can expect a bill without at tip. It’s really that simple. Poor behavior without consequence is an endorsement for more of the same.

I recently became a patient of a new medical practice because I had become so frustrated with the lack of attention, service, and care I was receiving from my previous practice. My medical bills were always incorrect, it was difficult to get a return call from a nurse, and near impossible to get an appointment before the end of the millennium.

Well, all of that has changed. I took a stand! I decided I was not going to put up with the poor behavior anymore – so I left the practice. I did however; make a point to mention my dissatisfaction before leaving. Of course, in order to keep my credibility (and preserve their dignity), I was very professional and dignified about my departure. I told my physician why I was leaving and what could have been done to keep me as a patient – as I walked out the door for the last time.

WOW – what a difference! My new practice is Family Medicine Associates located in Suffolk. I called to make my first appointment and the receptionist worked me right in. I bet you’re thinking this is too good to be true – that’s what I thought. But it was true – I could have an appointment with Barbara Young, the nurse practitioner, the same week I called to make it. Boy, what a smart cookie!

I love to see young, professional women excelling in their careers of choice.

I have no doubt she has a very bright future ahead of her. She was very pleasant, had a terrific bedside manner and most importantly, she listened carefully to my concerns. Based on the comments she made and the questions she asked, she clearly knew her stuff.

I left the practice thrilled with my first experience, but the real test will come when I am really sick and germ infested.

Well wouldn’t you know it – only days later I had to return for desperately needed medical advice? This time I had a chance to meet Dr. David Waller. Not only was he pleasant and a sharp dresser – but also he knew my name and was clear on all that ailed me.

I was floored! I had grown so accustomed to walking into the doctor’s office with a list of issues and my mouth on overdrive (so I could rattle off the list before the doctor quickly scurried away) I didn’t know how to react. He actually wanted to understand what was wrong, and I believe he genuinely wanted to do whatever possible to make it better.

This guy was good! Somewhere in the mix, Dr. Waller’s nurse, Linda Christy came in to assist with scheduling some tests, getting my prescriptions and the like. She was pleasant, concerned, efficient and focused. She made a point to write down instructions, explain my tests and review my new prescriptions thoroughly. To top it off, she said to call her personally if I needed anything; anything at all. With my jaw dragging on the ground in pure awe and astonishment, I left my appointment feeling very confident that taking a stand and accepting nothing less than excellence, had paid off.

The moral of the story: Taking a stand can be a pain. It can be inconvenient and disrupt your life.

But…tolerating substandard treatment, poor manners and generally rude behavior is not the answer either. Remember the old adage, &uot;Do what you have always done, get what you always got&uot;! In this case, I made a much-needed change and got more than ever expected from the great folks at Family Medicine Associates!

Now, if I could just find a new bank….

Rebecca Hill is the advertising director and a regular columnist for the News-Herald.