I spent 45 minutes on the phone with a client that complained for 40 of those minutes. I work for a healthcare agency that provides services over the phone. Essentially people call in and I provide the red carpet to where they need to be transferred to whether that be to a pharmacy, their doctor's office, or at times, to make a complaint. Today, it was to make a complaint.
I was getting an earful. From COVID being a conspiracy to stories about politics then back to complaints about doctors. The spectrum of complaints was unreal and, unknowingly, I was in it for the long hall.
Between the plethora of complaints, I could tell this person was, sadly, well accustomed to the healthcare system. They threw out names of prestigious hospitals and doctors at those facilities like they had a seat at the table or something. It was magnificently outrageous. Through the bitter tone of their voice, I noticed a desire to control an uncontrollable situation.
Cancer will do this to you. It’s not only a physiological disease but a psychological one as well. And it scares the shit out of you! Literally. How do I know? Because they told me so. They were scared shitless about the future because they had no control of their own life anymore. So when they came to me complaining and needing to vent about the countless people not listening to their wants, telling them which doctor to see, telling them where they need to be, at what time to be there, which treatment to get, and telling them how to live their life without listening to how they actually want to live their life, you’re damn right I will take all the time in the world to listen.
After 40 minutes of badgering me with entitlement demands and allegations of how the system has failed them (some interesting points made i might add), the phone went silent. The most I had said up until this point was short responses to their claims, “I’m sorry to hear that”, “Oh, I see”, “Sorry you’re going through this”. So when the phone went silent, I didn’t know what to do. Initially, I thought of something funny to say, which is usually how I cope with a depressing situation or attempt to make an optimistic acknowledgment, but didn’t. It didn’t feel right, so I sat there in silence. After a few seconds, which felt like an eternity, they spoke, but when they did, something was different. Their voice no longer had the bitter dreadful tone it once did. It was different. It sounded pure and genuine. What happened? Why were they no longer angry?
They closed the conversation by thanking me for the time I took to sit back and, well, just listen. I didn’t feel like I did anything at all, but apparently, I did just enough to change their mood. Yes! Small victories are the best and at that moment I felt fulfilled by our connection that was merely through a telephone.
We often desire for others to hear our opinions. Sometimes this comes across as us being argumentative or hot-headed, when in our minds, we just want to be acknowledged and heard in this lively world we live in (probably why I am writing this piece). We have a lot of wants and desires as human beings. These wants or desires can be disruptive when trying to formulate meaningful relationships. If we are mindful of our reactions and take a step back to eliminate ourselves from the equation, we may find that the end result of what we do want or desire can be, if not more so, more rewarding than expressing our opinion on every situation. And sometimes all that is needed to reap these fulfilling rewards is for us to listen to one another. Try it out, see what happens.