I'm a Brené Brown fan. Have you seen her Ted Talk? Over 45 million have.
In her recent book, Dare to Lead, she observes:
"What's true but seems counter-intuitive is that we don't trust people who don't struggle, who don't have bad days or hard times. We also don't develop connection with people we don't find relatable."
I share this because some chiropractors apparently receive "doctor" training. Which often means showing up aloof or emotionally distant.
That may have worked a generation ago, but today it makes your care largely transactional rather than transformational.
If chiropractic results were based upon some mystical power or secret elixir that relied on the placebo effect, there might be value in putting on an act.
And without minimizing your compassion and skillful adjustments, be mindful that you're actually dependent upon the doctor within the patient.
So, relax. Show up as you. No acting required.
That doesn't mean you indulge patients with your tax problems or marriage issues. But it wouldn't hurt if you showed up just a little less, well, perfect.
Reveal a flaw, whether it's your guilt over being a chocoholic or that you secretly binge on old Friends episodes.
Ultimately, this is an identity issue. Do you see your role as a "fixer" or a "partner?"
The fixer, which is a popular male persona, suggests that patients are broken and that your job is to put them back together. Which means you must be healthier than those you help. Adjustments are something you do "to" a patient.
Seeing yourself as a partner is probably a better goal. In other words, you'll be collaborating with patients to whatever degree they're willing to participate. What do they want? How much responsibility are they willing to assume? When you create patient partnerships, your adjustments are something you do "with" a patient.
To or with? Big difference. Especially energetically.
In countless subtle ways patients are sizing you up during those first couple of visits. Do you show up superior to them? Do you exert some type of social authority? Do you take on responsibilities that aren't yours—such as being the food police or exercise Nazi?
Most patients, at least those who are most fulfilling to work with, lower their guard as they see you lower yours. As both parties emotionally deescalate from the medical stereotype, a deeper, more influential relationship can emerge. There's a sense of ease. You no longer have to show up as the patient's parent, boss or conscience. Which, previously, besides being an amazingly thankless job, is exhausting and burdensome.
The fear of showing up as yourself is the worry that if you did, patients wouldn't like what they saw. This is a lie. It's only when you are authentically you that patients will risk a deeper connection. So, you'll want to go first.
Scary, I know.
Bill Esteb has been a chiropractic patient and advocate since 1981. He is the creative director of Patient Media and the co-founder of Perfect Patients. He’s been a regular speaker at Parker Seminars and other chiropractic gatherings since 1985. He is the author of 12 books that explore the doctor/patient relationship from a patient’s point of view. His chiropractic blog, in-office consultations, patient focus groups and consulting calls have helped hundreds of chiropractors around the world. His Monday Morning Motivation is emailed to over 10,000 chiropractors each week.