Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No Put Downs About My Appearance Please

One of the things I need to take in stride at work but still bug me (I'll start a list) are passing negative words that clients say to me, from my size to my general appearance (and at this point I wonder how often male case managers at my agency have heard similar comments). These could be about the length of my hair, its color, adding weight, and so on. These aren't very different from some situations that I meet an acquaintance who says a similar small disparaging word to me. Or family member for that matter. But this is a different relationship so it needs a different response than I would say to the first two.

It's true that most of my clients don't do this and usually it's the same clients who're guilty of saying these negative comments, often them being the first first statement they say. Usually when a client says something like that I go into automatic response mode and prefaced with either a smile or a blank face I go on to say, "Let's talk more about you." Typically an irresistible suggestion. Or maybe I should pretend they're all made in good humor, like one client who told me, "You seem shorter this time. I think you shrink every time I see you!"

One reaction I could appreciate is a client's initial surprised comment about me looking young when she first meets me. I more easily understand where the client's coming from in that case. As a side note, I sometimes think about the dynamic between young (mid 20s or younger) case managers and adults in their 40s and 50s (vs working with an older case manager who may be seen by an older client to have more life experience).

On the other side are compliments. I don't mind an occasional compliment (as long as it's superficial) and I've complimented clients myself. Compliments that preface requests for items though, well, that's sometimes part of the game.


Franklin P. Smearcase said...

(and at this point I wonder how often male case managers at my agency have heard similar comments).

Not often, I'll bet. It's one of those messed up societal gender dynamics. I'm not a case manager but have been, and I don't think I heard that kind of thing once. I'm wondering what I'd say if I did, though.

If it were after knowing the client a while, I'd explore it, I guess. Otherwise, I would just think something equally mean about the client and try to enjoy it. I'm serious :) But I think "let's talk more about you" is a smart response.

Anatolia said...

Are there comments you hear from clients that you think only male case managers hear?