by Judy Nutz Campanale, DC, ACP, FCSC (hon)
Ryleigh, a precocious, 4-yr-old little girl who started coming to our office with her grandmother before she could even walk, was well aware of the drawer at our front desk that is loaded with stickers, lollipops, and other goodies for our chiro kids after their visits. It happened one busy morning that our C.A. was setting someone up in a back room and I was left to assist Ryleigh with her treat in the nearly full front room. She ran to the desk, shaking with anticipation by the drawer as I asked, “What’s the magic word Ryleigh?” The word spilled out of her mouth in an instant, “Abracadabra!” The whole front room burst into laughter, as did I.
Of course, what I had hoped little Ryleigh would say was “Please.” But I couldn’t really fault her. Her answer wasn’t wrong. It wasn’t the answer I wanted, but I had asked her the wrong question. We do this in our office with our practice members sometimes and if we want to better educate them we have to be careful about the questions we ask and the words we use.
Probably the worst question we can ask the people who come into our office is “How are you?” I know for many it is a habit, but if your inquiry isn’t based on a heartfelt desire to know how someone is handling their day or their life, why ask? The bigger problem is the person you are asking might think you REALLY want to know and this gives them every opportunity to unload their list of everything that is bothering them, certainly their musculoskeletal problems but maybe also troubles in their family, the fact that their cell phone isn’t working or that they just lost their job!!! Don’t misunderstand, I genuinely care about the people who come to our office but I usually don’t have time to solve the problems of the entire world with them.
I like to ask people in the office any number of things instead of “How are you?” A few examples include, “How’s your morning (or afternoon or evening) going?” “Are you having a happy day?” and “Tell me something good!” I have the liberty of this because I do NOT treat symptoms and I am NOT recording the progress of their aches, pains, and conditions. I locate and correct vertebral subluxation exclusively and that is done independent of the presence or absence of symptoms.
Does this stop everyone from telling me about their aches and pains? Of course not. However, I have a simple response for those who go into a tirade like “Oh Doc, my shoulder is killing me, starting in my neck and running right down my arm into this, this and this finger.” Whenever, someone spews their symptoms to me, I typically reply, “I’m sorry to hear that. I am going to check from the base of your skull down to your tailbone for vertebral subluxations and get rid of them wherever I find them so your body can work a little better. Sound like a plan?”
Sometimes we ask the wrong question, but sometimes it is our practice members who ask the wrong question. We need to be careful to give the right answer even when the question is wrong. For example, people love to ask, “Can you help me?” You may want to respond “Yes” because you know that everyone is better off without vertebral subluxation but that is not the right answer to this wrong question. If you say “Yes” (from your philosophical perspective), the practice member hears “Yes, chiropractic can fix my _____ (fill in whatever ailment he/she came in with).” That may or may not be true. Of course all healing comes from within, but that’s only in the event that the body actually heals. Not every body heals.
Let’s get rid of the bumper sticker slogans in our office and start educating our people a little better. As professionals, we are obligated to stick to the facts. For me that truth is that everyone is better off without vertebral subluxation. As chiropractors, the clearer we can be about what we have to offer, the greater the impact we can have on our communities. And that would be the right answer to the right question.