Change for good, change for bad

Dec 15, 2021 | Insights

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Do you change for good or change for bad when circumstances force a new direction on you?
When I arrived at the orthodontist practice for a scheduled appointment, the receptionists pointed from behind their screens and visors to a chair and told me to wait. A few years ago, I would have been greeted with a friendly smile and polite conversation.

I was commanded to complete an extensive medical questionnaire, albeit only six weeks after the last one. As I filled in my answers, confirming again that I was not pregnant and had not smoked in the last twenty years, I wondered what, if anything, happened to the results.

Change for the worst

The practice dealt with pandemic changes by changing their procedures and subjugating themselves to them irrespective of the feelings of their clients.

And, to make sure I knew I was simply an item in the practice system and not a real person, I was abruptly told my consultant was delayed. The receptionist, when asked, was unable to tell me for how long and unapologetically suggested I wait.

I walked out.

A few days ago, I took our dog and cat to our local vet. Over the past two years, my vets have seen a lot of us. Like all of us, they have been forced to change the way they treat our pets whilst keeping them and us safe, even at one stage carrying out consultations in the car park.

However, the vets never lost the personal touch, taking time to greet Gussie (my dog) or Billie the Squid (my cat – a short hair domestic with very long legs and tail) and then me. They were terrific and always took the time to tell me about my pets’ conditions and treatments.

Changing for the better

Forced to change, the vets had worked out how to keep us safe whilst reassuringly and compassionately keeping in contact with us.

We often want to instigate change ourselves, to relieve us from an unchanging and unwelcome situation. However, sometimes change is imposed on us. How we react determines whether we make a positive or negative difference in the world.

Think about times when you have had to change. Have you done it in a way that has a positive or a negative impact on yourself and the world? I wonder how much impact your values and principles had on your transformation. What do you think?

A postscript

My friend Jacquie Landeman, a fellow contributor to the Enough book, wrote a chapter called ‘Enough with the Rules’ – well worth reading. Jacquie’s premise is that one of the most effective ways of finding meaning and purpose in your work is to start with kindness.

Jacquie points out that many public-facing firms have to deal with harassment and rudeness from their clients. That may be so. However, Jacquie sees things a little differently. She writes:

‘…a sure sign that a company is letting rules and policy dictate how their customers are treated is when you see posters that say, ‘please don’t be rude to our staff’. Anytime I see that kind of signage at a customer service counter, I brace myself for … less.’

Instinctively, I feel our vets, for whom kindness is a given, have found meaning and purpose in their work. But, as for my orthodontist practice, I’m not so sure.

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