We make judgments every day in our lives about a whole bunch of things. I don’t like that meal; that’s a fabulous dress; I think my butt looks big in this. Some of the judgments we make are completely relevant. Some of them can be speculative. In practice, it is extremely important that we are able to discern the difference. We need to make judgment calls as to what we believe is occurring in each client and what we perceive is the best course of action. When the lines blur is when we make judgment calls that are not ours to make.
Let me give you some examples:
Someone calls your clinic and asks how much you charge.
The thought that goes through many practitioners’ heads is: “If they are asking then this person doesn’t value their health”. As a result, less effort goes into the conversation because the practitioner doesn’t want to waste their time.
Now this is where judgment is not helpful. Not to you or the person asking the question. We have no idea what that person thinks or feels or whether they value their health or not. They might be asking because they are struggling financially and need to know so they can decide whether they can afford a session with you.
How people decide to spend their money on their health is really none of our business. Our job is to provide the best information we can to allow someone to make a decision. How many times do you ring up to find out about a product or service and ask the price? Does it define your perceived value of the thing or is it purely based on economics?
A client tells you they are not able to make the suggested changes.
I have had this happen more times than I can count. It’s easy to feel frustrated when this happens. And it is natural to even feel disrespected as a professional health practitioner. However, I tell my clients “That is fine. But it’s my job is to explain to how a particular lifestyle choice may be affecting your health. And also to outline some potential strategies that might work for you”. I am never pushy. I just request the opportunity to have the conversation, so that they are making an informed decision. Result? I also cannot count the amount of clients who have listened to the information and have decided that perhaps they can engage in some sort of change.
Here’s an example of recommended diet changes:
A person emailed recently enquiring about treatment for watery eyes. Through the exchange it appeared that there were some immune system issues. I recommended dietary changes that were likely to have a significant long-term impact – but that a consultation was required to be sure of their condition. The person told me my recommendation wouldn’t be possible due to their work, but still booked in for a session.
Their symptoms included:
- Constant watering eyes requiring constant wiping for the past 25 years
- Nose running constantly
- Poor sleep 3 hours per night max
- Bleeding bowels for the past 20 years that all investigations had failed to diagnose.
What was their diet?
- Breakfast: 3 Weet-Bix with milk
- Lunch: Burger King hamburger (because they are healthier than McDonalds)
- Dinner: Same as lunch
- Drinks: Cut down to 3 Cokes per day
After explaining to the client that the diet was highly inflammatory and that all of the symptoms tied into inflammation being a major contributing factor. I also suggested some dietary adjustments including:
- Breakfast: Whole oat porridge with fruit and non-dairy milk
- Lunch: Meat and vegetables, not takeaway
- Dinner: Meat and vegetables, not takeaway
Please be aware: I know there are many better options than this. But it is always about meeting someone where they are and creating some change as opposed to perfect change.
The client sucked air through their teeth and shook their head at my recommended dietary adjustments. But they booked in again for the next week. I’m glad I hadn’t assumed they were unable to make that leap. One week later, the client proudly presented their diet diary:
- Breakfast: Whole oat porridge with fruit and unsweetened almond milk
- Lunch: Stir-fry vegetables
- Dinner: Stir-fry vegetables
- Liquids: Water only
- Eyes barely running
- Nose stopped running
- Sleep improved to 5 hours per night
- No constipation and very little blood in the bowel movements
This to me is absolutely extraordinary. I honestly didn’t expect them to take on the dietary advice given (yes, I get the irony: my expectations show my judgement!). Once again, this proves we always need to make sure to give every single client the same time and energy – regardless of what we may assume about them from the things they say and do.
In short, give the best information you can at all times and let the client decide. And be prepared to be amazed.