Letting Patients Fail!
Can I be frank with you? One of the things that frustrates me the most is having a patient say "I want to take a break from chiropractic!". This brings me back to high school when boyfriends and girlfriends would take a break from their relationship. We all know that this break was for all intentional purposes, a break-up. I guess "taking a break" just sounds better leaves hope and hurts less feelings than "break-up". To me, chiropractic is my life and passion and just like I would never take a break from brushing my teeth, exercising and eating properly, I would never entertain taking a "break" from chiropractic.
The reason we become frustrated when patients decide to leave us, is due to the emotional attachement we have of the effort, energy and money we invested in this patient. We also feel resentful because these patients failed to live up to our expectations and infatuations that they would stay forever and then take their decision personally. When we react out of resentment, it is impossible to come from a place of love. So what to do?
Unless you are offering poor care and service and come to work smelling like a compost bin, patients don't take a break from chiropractic because of you! Patients take a break from chiropractic because at that point in time, there are other things in their lives higher on their value list. Although this is a perception, it is real in their mind and chiropractic becomes a luxury and not a necessity for them at that moment. This is one of the reasons we need to educacte our patients but more importantly link chiropractic to their highest values. For instance, someone who loves to golf and can no longer enjoy it due to pain needs to understand that chiropractic will allow them to fulfill this. Always ask this question: "How do I make chiropractic real to them and link it to their highest value?".
Despite this effort, some patients will still decide to take a break and here is what you need to do: keep the door wide open!
Allow your patients to fail without being resentful and making them feel guilty of their decision. Quickly reiterate why this may not be a great decision but re-assure them you will welcome them back with open arms. If you do this, many will return when chiropractic is higher on their value list ie: during a crisis. Other than poor care and service, which I hope is not the case, the main reason patients don't return from their "break" is because they feel they disappointed you and fear you will put them through a guilt trip, making them feel bad for having left. Remember, you created this by speaking from a state of resentment, anger and frustration on their last visit.
So, next time a patient wants to take a break, educate them from a place of love a gratitude knowing their decision has nothing to do with you or chiropractic. Keep the door open and respect their decision. Be grateful for having had the opportunity to serve them as well as for the visible and hidden gifts they have brought into your life. There is a reason these patients are brought into our lives and many times it is to teach us a valuable lesson. Our most challenging patients often display traits we have not yet come to love about ourselves. Just a thought!