In Spanish, the word “señor” can take on several different meanings; a man, a master or boss, a husband are just a few examples. The English language is more precise in the meanings and use of words. However, we have given away much of that precision through improper use of the language and the use of slang.
The precision of language in court or in legal documents is very important. To this point, courts have instructed jurors in the following manner: “In the course of your deliberations, do not hesitate to re-examine your own views and change your opinion, if convinced it is erroneous.”
This language demonstrates that courts are aware that an opinion is a belief not based on absolute certainty or positive knowledge but on what seems to be true. It is a conclusion, which is the last step in a reasoning process. In short, it is acceptable for a person to “jump” to an opinion but not to a conclusion. It is rare for a person to withhold making an opinion until all of the evidence is in and a conclusion can be formed.
It may be true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, but if that first impression is only an opinion, it can be changed….if the person making the first impression gets a chance (and takes the opportunity) to change it. Unfortunately, another chance at a first impression is rare in today’s world.
As a healthcare provider, you routinely make first impressions on patients. Hopefully, these impressions are positive. Remember, patients are forming opinions about you and your staff just as you are forming opinions about them. Keep in mind that opinions (first or otherwise) are beliefs not based on absolute certainty. So “do not hesitate to re-examine your own views and change your opinion, if convinced it is erroneous.” If a patient is difficult, allow them the luxury of making a bad first impression. Rather than taking it personally or moving to the conclusion stage, ask yourself five simple words. “What else could it be?”
And since you might never know if your patient will allow you the same benefit, it is that much more important for you to make a positive first impression. Pull out all the stops! Before initiating contact with a patient, consider taking a moment to collect yourself and focus on what will be most effective to make that first impression a good one. Invite your staff to be focused on these first impressions and to alert you to anything unusual about a patient. Develop a practice of making good and appropriate eye-contact. Imagine what your facial expressions look like to your patients. What are your first words going to be? Are you going to shake hands with the patient? Will the patient have your undivided attention? If not, can you correct that prior to making the contact?
The practice of preparing before stepping “on-stage” into the exam room has the potential to pay impressive dividends. Pull out all the stops! The success of your practice, and even your own success might depend on it.
Passion for Patients™ International can teach you and your staff techniques to ensure that first impressions work for you, not against you.