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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Speak Up Proactively - With a Smile

An opportunity for advocating for yourself by speaking up occurs every time you begin a new relationship with any type of salesperson, an attorney, a mechanic, or a physician.

Let's look at each of the above examples:

The Salesperson

How many of you have felt pressure from a salesperson?

It seems to happen most to me when I am looking at large appliances such as washer/dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators. And of course, it happens when you are attempting to purchase a car.

Plan the limits you will set ahead of the visit to the store or the car lot. Sometimes it helps to speak to the salesperson before he/she speaks to you. As the salesperson approaches, you smile and say, "I'm just looking."

If the salesperson says, "Let me show you the best features of this xxxxxxxx," then you can say, "I'd like to know about the best features, but then I want some time to look around by myself. I'm only looking and don't plan to buy anything today."

And then you smile again.

The Attorney

Every attorney with whom I have met has a vast amount of knowledge about how I should be protecting myself in my life. One of the difficulties of visiting an attorney is that often he/she has important information about other legal issues you may need to take care of, other than the one for which the appointment is made.

However, I can get overwhelmed by the possibilities of decisions to be made that were not on my agenda.

A proactive way to approach the attorney is to smile at the beginning of the appointment and say, "I really appreciate all the ways you look out for me.  I know your suggestions are usually ones I want to consider. However, today I would like to focus only on my will. If you have other areas in which you think you can be of help to me, I'll write them down here on this pad of paper and I can then make a later appointment to focus on them one at a time."

And of course, you smile, indicating that you feel pleasant about all of this.

The Auto Mechanic

When I take my car in for an oil change, the quick change place I go to is frequently interested in selling me more than the basic oil change. After I learned this, now I don't even allow them to start their speech to convince me.

As the salesperson approaches me with his/her head shaking, saying, "Ma'am, you should let us do the super luxurious deluxe oil change," I try to hear him as if he were simply making noise.

I smile and say, "All I need today is the basic oil change."

Usually he/she has evidence to support what I should do to my car - a fluid stick with a certain color that means nothing to me, an air filter that has varying degrees of darkness in different areas. I don't know enough for any of it to mean anything to me, so occasionally I may
actually need what the mechanic is pushing. 

However, if I am clear that my budget today only supports an oil change, then I continue to smile pleasantly, and say, "All I need today is the basic oil change." 

(I also make a mental note to check with my car dealer to see if what the mechanic is suggesting is something I should do in the future.)

The Physician

On the first visit to a new physician, we each have a wonderful opportunity to state directly what we are needing. It's a time to consider exactly what would make you comfortable in
the doctor's office.

One of my private practice clients does not want to be pressured about weight. She explained on the first visit that she would prefer to weigh facing away from the numbers on the scale. She also requested that her weight not be mentioned unless her health were in some way threatened.

Another of my clients asked the physician on her first visit if he would please explain his findings after she was fully dressed. She felt demeaned to talk to the doctor about her health while sitting naked under the paper gown on an examining table.

Everyone doesn't need to make these two requests, but both of these are examples of advocating for yourself with a physician. 

Even if it is not your first visit to the physician, if you are uncomfortable about something in the way your doctor's visits are handled, there is no time like the present to bring it up with your physician.

Again as you make these requests, you smile as you speak because you are making a positive proactive request.

Speaking up to your salesperson, your attorney, your mechanic or your physician are all moments to practice self-advocating skills.

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