short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Make a Statement with a Question

Questions are wonderful tools. They can be used not only for gathering information but also to get what you want. They control behavior far better than do statements.

A case in point is the conversation I had with the doctor of an elderly friend. I had accompanied her to the doctor to discuss a medical condition that occurs frequently in elderly patients. Before going there with her, however, I had tracked down the latest information on my friend's condition in the library and from the Internet. It was neither a curable problem nor a life-threatening one, but there were some remedies to alleviate the worst of the symptoms.

The doctor, surprisingly, allowed me to come into the examination room with my friend. (That turned out to be his biggest mistake.) I was surprised at the manner in which he treated my friend. He acted as if she were a child. Then he told her she would just have to get used to her condition.

I was not about to accept this answer although my friend told me that this doctor's behavior was typical of others in her experience. Most of the doctors whom she had seen felt that she was so old that she should be thankful that she was alive and forget about seeking a better quality life.

This doctor sealed his own fate when he turned to me, whispering, "You know how it is with older folks," implying that my friend was imagining her problems. I knew the problems to be real.

Moreover, I wanted him to make recommendations along the lines of some of the things I had read about in the medical journals. So, I responded to his comment with a simple question, asked in a deliberately naive tone, as if I were requesting information, "Oh, does that mean that you do not wish to prescribe any of the specific remedies that other doctors are using (I mentioned a couple remedies by name) or that you are unaware of them?"

His tone changed immediately, and so did his tune. Of course, he was aware of them. He could recommend a couple as being rather effective, and he spent ten minutes or so working out the best combination of recommendations. How much information and assistance that simple question brought forth! Only it was not a question at all. It was a command: Treat my friend well.

I got what I wanted. My friend got what she wanted (respect) and needed (treatment). The doctor got a lesson about how to treat elderly patients. I hope he has since applied the lesson learned to many, many others.


Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes I published, copyright 2003.

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About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.