Patients or clients who talk non-stop

Most of the time you love most of your patients or clients. But there are days…

Whether you’re at the front doing the greeting or at the back of the practice treating, you are sometimes pinned by a patient or client who wants to share their whole world with you, such as vacations, problems with their children, problems at work, problems with their spouse, and so on. Many times you can start to feel like their personal life coach (with no degree and no pay and no time). At other times, you may be the only person that they have seen all week, especially with seniors, and they lack someone to talk to.

And YOU just want to get on with your day! What can you do about this? Sometimes you want to cut them off mid-sentence but feel that would feel too rude. You may be thinking to yourself that you want them to just “put a sock in it.” And you end up instead feeling trapped in the conversation without a smooth way out, and your work isn’t getting done.

What therefore can you actually do about this?

There are a variety of solutions and tactics and some will apply to the reception area and some more to the providers at the back.

Taking a fairly direct and honest approach first:

  • When the patient or client leaves you a slight opening, just say, “I’m so glad you told me about that Mrs. Jones. However, right now I must get back to my work. But be sure to let me know how that went the next you come.” (And then get back to your work.) You could also point out the magazines available to them in the reception area and suggest a good article in one of them that they might like to read while they are waiting.
  • Look for a slight opening if possible where you can then say (ever so politely), “Mr. Smith, I am SO sorry to interrupt you this way, but I need to ask you a question related to your treatment, if that is okay with you (dripping with politeness)?

If the direct approach doesn’t work, try the following:

  • If there is no convenient gap presenting itself, you CAN interrupt them mid-sentence (once again EVER so politely): “Excuse me, I am SO sorry to interrupt you but I have an urgent phone call I have to make at this moment, would you mind awfully?” (A slight lie, but go with the flow here and call your home number and leave a message for a pretend patient.)
  • Another approach is to ask them if there is another time that you could talk with them about this matter, as you need to get on with the treatment. If you know the person well and wouldn’t mind having coffee with them outside of working hours, you could always suggest that if appropriate.

Give these suggestions a try and work out some of your own, and then practice them a bit with other members of the team till you can do it smoothly.


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Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to The Art of Management Inc. and a clickable link back to this page.

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