Saturday, January 8, 2011

excerpt from a telephone conversation yesterday...

"I ask you to be patient with me, please. I can't hear very well, and I also have brain damage, so it's hard for me to understand sometimes."

Who wants to tell a perfect stranger that they have brain damage? No one! But I do, and more often than I care to admit. Now, some folks might think that is being "negative" or stating a "self-fulfilling prophecy," but to me, it just "is what it is." And I can't pretend to understand, especially about things that are important to comprehend (no pun intended) like insurance!

The statement above was made yesterday while talking to a woman for United Health Care, which provides insurance for AARP members. I would think she'd be used to talking to the elderly and know that she needed to slow down and repeat herself often.

I only stopped and said that because I could hear the impatience in her voice. When I would ask for an explanation or request that she repeat something she'd said, she was started to "sigh" before answering. We all know how it sounds. And I don't take it anymore. I was just trying to find out if my husband was firmly subscribed in their insurance, since he did not get his welcome letter and I had received mine.

As it eventually turned out, I had a good reason to call them and find out! After I asked her to be patient, she softened somewhat and told me that they were getting lots of people calling because the new membership cards had not been included in the welcome letters as they should have been.

I just thought I'd write about this for the sake of others reading here who have problems with thinking. If you haven't already, then tell yourself it's okay to tell someone on the phone that you have troubles with thinking and you need them to talk slower and to explain things. Even practice it out loud a time or two. I learned that from my speech therapist who I saw for six months after my injury. She called it "rehearsal."

Also, if you can, determine to be self-depricating. These people on phones have a rough job, dealing with folks all day. I wouldn't want to do it. So, if you don't take yourself too seriously, that usually creates a "vibe" with the person on the other end of the phone to where they will move mountains for you.

What I mean is if you ask for a repeat often of the same question or fact stated, you might start the next request with, "Oh, my silly brain! I'm sorry to have to ask you again. It seems like I can't add 2 plus 2 today!"

This way, the person on the other end isn't feeling defensive and thinking you are blaming her/him.

There's an old adage about this sort of negotiation-personality. I can't recall it exactly right now (silly brain!) but it's something like, "You can catch more flies with honey than!" I guess the honey is sticky and therefore catches the flies better. 'Cause I sure do know that pig doo-doo attracts plenty of flies!

I hate calling on the phone for anything these days. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why. Not only is it difficult to understand someone when you can't SEE them talking, but who wants to have to put on a happy face and admit you have brain damage??? But, we all have to do our daily business when necessary on a phone, so this is the way I have found to navigate through it all.

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