Monday, December 28, 2009
But Tell Me How You're Doing
Harry, an elderly client (who's still waiting to join the social program I had written about) was telling me he gets annoyed at other people asking him about his arm cast. "I go through so many different medical situations," he said, "and people are always asking me about them. I appreciate they're asking but I don't want to go through the whole explanation each time.
Putting aside the fact that I was floored by Harry warming up to the idea of other people asking him how he's doing, I told him, "Give them a short answer. You don't even have to be specific. Then then ask them how they're doing. People like to talk about themselves."
A week passed and Harry left me a message saying "It worked! Tyrone asked me how I was doing, and I said, 'God bless, but tell me about how you're doing,' and he started telling me all about how he's doing." I was glad it worked.
It's not completely accurate though that everyone wants to talk about herself. My dad tells a story of an aunt who would ask him about him, his family, his job, his health, and the moment my dad turned the questions on her she would give him a look of surprised disdain, as if shocked he asked her personal questions. Though she didn't respond, it did stop her stream of questions.