We practitioners, in our enthusiasm, too often lose our focus on the mission. This mission, of course, is to guide our patients to a better life. But to do so, we must first guide them through the process. If we fail at this, we fail to meet them where they are.
We all understand why some practitioners would rush over this essential first step. We have firsthand experience with the effectiveness and untold benefits of chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture meridian balance. We understand the advantages of eating quality foods and taking Standard Process and MediHerb supplements. And we are naturally passionate and excited to help as many people as we can share in this success. As we should be!
However, when you assume that a patient is instantaneously ready to take in everything you have to offer, you may overlook their very real limits. They may need more time to see results and learn how the process works—and you must give it to them. Ignoring this will only make you crazy!
As my mentor Dr. Scott Walker would say, “You cannot be married to the outcome.” In other words, you must respect the fact that patients have the power to choose what course they want to take. And, like it or not, they will make their choices no matter what you say or do.
It is therefore best to proceed from a place of neutrality and move at the patient’s own pace. This doesn’t mean you don’t care. It is simply how you make space for them to develop trust in your guidance.
Our knowledge of what works and our passion for sharing it makes us care deeply about our patients’ success—sometimes even more than they do. But have you ever asked yourself why you care so much? It is worth it to interrogate your motives every so often. Have you ever depended on a patient’s success to boost your self-esteem? Have you ever felt validated because a patient accepted your recommendations? Or even oversold the benefits so much that you actually talked them out of following your recommendations at all?
It was a great relief to me when I realized that I cannot not make anyone do anything. You too will feel a tremendous load lifted from your shoulders when you truly accept this simple truth: You can only present choices to your patients—you cannot choose for them.
Patients must retain authority over their health. Respect this fact, and strive to meet them where they are at. Ask questions, and respect the answers you get. What are their goals? Their expectations? What are they willing to do? With this information you can try to meet—and—exceed their desired outcomes. And when this happens, your practice will be teeming with patients who have faith, confidence, and trust in your future recommendations.
Remember, RESULTS REFER!
Image from iStock/PeopleImages.