A Weighty Question About Clients


Do you ever feel like people are talking past you?

My father felt that way, when I accompanied him to his physician appointments and medical staff would communicate treatment options to me, but not to him.

He was deeply offended. He may have been elderly, but he was the patient, the decisions were his and there was nothing wrong with his mind.

My father had been on the other side of the doctor-patient relationship.

As a young doctor in the Army Medical Corps, serving in the 1950s deep South, he always addressed African-American patients as Mr., Mrs., Miss… (the pre-Ms. era). He was admonished by colleagues who called African-American patients by their first names, while reserving honorifics for white patients.

His response was, "I treat all my patients with dignity."

I heard a nurse speaking to a group of college students interested in a career in nursing. A student asked, "What if I don't want to handle bedpans?"

The nurse paused. Then said, "It is the greatest privilege of our lives to take care of people at their most vulnerable, when their dignity is the most compromised."

The word "dignity," carries weight and with it, heavy responsibility.

But it's not just limited to the medical field. All organizations need to ask, "Do we treat our clients with dignity?"

Do we treat the expensively dressed person with the same interest as one less so?
Are we patient with those who take a little extra time to place a food order?
Do we make eye contact and address both individuals, when clients shop in pairs?
Can we make all people feel appreciated and worthy of our attention?

Having clients is a privilege. To be worthy of them, periodically we must do a dignity check.

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