Although not officially listed in my job description, I tend to make people cry on a (I hesitate to use the word ‘regular’ here) healthy basis. I don’t discriminate either. It can be a DVM, a technician, a CSR, a client or even myself.
A few weeks ago I invoked a tremendous cry out of a client after speaking with them about their pet’s charges. It was not and is never my intention to have this happen. But I touch on very sensitive matters (money) and I think that sometimes clients feel they can release their emotions with me more easily than with the DVM or technician. "Listener and empathizer" is not officially in my job description, but I am more than happy to provide this service to clients.
This interaction came the day after I made the ICU DVM cry, and two weeks after I had made a different ICU DVM cry (for the second time). It’s not like I'm the Hammer of Thor, cruising through the hospital leveling everything in my sight...
I know that speaking with clients regarding financial concerns is a very stressful, sensitive, emotional and guilt ridden topic. I accept and understand the majority of responses I receive when doing my job. Making your co-workers cry is different. The first time I made a DVM cry I was horrified. What was supposed to be a light hearted joke that would normally 99.9% of the time be interpreted that way, wasn’t due to preceding circumstances that I was unaware of and I was the final levee for the tears to break through. Ugh. Apologize, apologize, force a hug, apologize. I did what was necessary to make it evident it was not my intention for the outcome to end up the way it did. We can laugh and make fun of it now. It actually helped bond our working relationship-who knew a good ugly, snot cry could do such a thing, which interestingly enough leads me to the next story. The very last hour of a tremendously hard and critical week in the ICU ended with myself and the ICU DVM crying but at the same time trying not to let the other one know. Stress, emotions and frustrations that you are dealing with in the workplace and also that your co-workers share, have to eventually be released.
The next time I made this same DVM cry I was complimenting her on the great job she does and how much I appreciate working with and watching her work. Boy, even my compliments make people cry. A few weeks ago a patient took the DVM, me and the technician all out of commission. It is rare that 3 of us will be crying all at once but it happened, hopefully without witnesses.
It is common place to make light of crying and emotions in our profession and I believe that it is a survival tactic that we all adapt to or else we wouldn’t last a day. We each take on so much sadness, stress, guilt, frustration, problem solving, empathy, happiness and understanding, that on a certain level we have to be immune to it. Sometimes it has to be released and you never know when it will hit you or someone else (the other excitement of working in an ER & ICU) in the hospital.
I can say with pride that since we know how to accept working in this environment we excel in comforting and understanding our clients and co-workers whenever the time is needed.
Crying hurts but also feels good. It is an important and very realistic part of our jobs and hey, sometimes a good cry with co-workers creates a better level of trust and working relationship.
"So, who you gonna make cry today?" - Direct quote to me from a co-worker.