When I moved to Athens in 2002, one of the biggest culture shocks was driving on the Greek roads!
Two days after arriving I had to find my way to the boys’ new school and then get home again. There was no satnav; it was done by memory and landmarks. The trouble was, with so many one way streets, the way you went there was never the way you got home again!
The angry Greek male!
The Greek drivers had a different mindset to ours on the road. You didn’t wait for a gap in the traffic. You pushed forwards and forced a gap in the traffic! We used to say – if you see a gap go for it; if you don’t see a gap go for it anyway!
I quickly learned to take my chances with the rest. However, what I couldn’t initially handle was a certain type of bullish and angry Greek driver. The guy who screamed obscenities just because I was a woman in a car. Typically he would be an aggressive driver who would shove his way in front only to abruptly pull over, with no indication, to the periptero (roadside kiosk) to buy a few hundred cigarettes.
He had no cares about how his behaviour affected others. He was purely focused on himself and getting ahead. Many times, he would come at me head on, the wrong way down a one way narrow street, swearing profanities and gesticulating wildly for ME to reverse so that he could squeeze past and continue! It wasn’t unknown for me to turn off the engine and wave my key at him. That tended to help with the stand off!
There were constant battles on the crazy roundabouts, horns blaring, anger boiling over until it smeared itself on me like black treacle and left my day infected with his foul mood.
One day I changed my behaviour
Quite honestly, it was exhausting. You see I realised that I couldn’t change these rude drivers. I couldn’t alter their behaviour. I could only change or manage my own attitude.
So I tried an experiment. I changed my response to the next guy, horn blaring, spitting on his windscreen as he insinuated that I was a less than virtuous lady. The redness of his face showed his blood rising to boiling point.
With a wink, I blew him a kiss.
I gave him my biggest and sweetest smile.
I waved at him like I had chanced upon a favourite old friend.
His head blew up. He couldn’t handle it. I continued happily on while he was left behind catatonic with rage, his heart threatening to give out. He had no idea how to deal with this response.
Meanwhile, I would laugh, sing along to the radio and would no longer arrive at my destination cross, indignant and smothered in his bad mood. It worked a treat.
The trolling of the ‘skeptics’
It seems that many Osteopaths live in fear of a bombshell letter landing on the doormat from the regulatory authorities. The angry laptop drivers are constantly screaming at these official bodies, insisting that they threaten you with further action if you do not comply with the demands made.
It is interesting that they are unelected and therefore represent only themselves. I wish that it was you who could be protected from these angry wasps!
You cannot reason with a constipated mind
(I’m not even sure that you can treat that!)
What if, just like the angry Greek drivers, we just dealt with this differently?
I think we should feel sorry for them. They have never witnessed the utter joy on a mother’s face as baby finally lets out that sigh after you’ve released the griping in their belly. They have never seen the old man riddled with arthritis, who just wants a little relief from the agony in his bones. They never see the delight of the builder who walks in like a crab and walks out tall and ready to continue earning for his family.
You repeatedly take out the pain and put the smiles back in. Your patients love you. They thank you profusely for your skilled workmanship. Some of them might even hug you in delight. They happily hand over their cash in fair exchange for the relief they feel.
Focus on all the good you do, all the pain you remove, all the people who are better able to go about their day because of your skills and abilities.
Review your marketing messages
Please don’t sit back and worry or live in fear of the semantics police. Don’t allow them celebrity. Don’t add any energy whatsoever to their fire. Ignore them entirely.
However, DO take action to protect yourself. Remove the threat of this nonsense and carry on.
Review your website, take a scythe to it and strip it back to the basics. Tell us very briefly how you can help us if we’re in pain. Give us hope and a free consultation. Get rid of that silly list of ‘allowed’ conditions. You know you are more than that. Use your awesome testimonials. (Note: if you’re in Australia patients are allowed to add these to ‘independent consumer and patient information sharing websites’. AHPRA 14/2/2016)
And then muster all the positive intention you have, smile your widest smile, focus on your next patient and sincerely hope that those people who spend their days making mischief, never need your help.
Oh and don’t forget your cheery wave as you blow a kiss and sail on through your day…
So on a more serious note…
I totally understand the frustration felt by many of you in the UK who feel rather victimised by certain people who feel obligated to trawl through your website to see if they can find any ‘offending’ wording.
Many have the feeling that you’ve been left unsupported. So I have spoken with Georgina at the Institute of Osteopathy to get a clearer picture of what else you can being doing to help yourself.
The good news is that the iO are currently in talks with the ASA so there are things going on behind the scenes to try and make more sense of what you are allowed to actually say.
‘With regulation comes responsibility’
And this is the case for all regulated industries. You are responsible for what is written on your website and on any printed materials you hand out. Therefore, as I said earlier, please do check the GOsC Code of Conduct that, for instance, you are not saying you can treat childhood conditions as that implies colic and glue ear etc. Until there is substantiated evidence this ruling is not going to change. However irritating this is (and it certainly is to me, let alone you!) we will have to live with it. Arguing the toss will change nothing at this time.
GOsC did in fact spend a great deal of money on looking at all the UK’s Osteopathic websites and sent letters to those who needed to make changes. Not everyone wished to do this. Indeed, I’m told that many ignored the advice.
Since August 2015, certain individuals have reported a set amount of Osteopaths per month to the regulatory body and it now stands at 180 of the 5,500 Osteopaths in the UK.
So I strongly advise that you take an afternoon off and thoroughly check every page of your website – as tedious as that is.
This is the current complaints procedure:
- If they agree that the wording contravenes the Code, GOsC write with notification of the reported violation with 28 days to comply with the required changes.
- They have the option to take this to immediate disciplinary so this is something at least. Be aware that this option could be invoked in future, with no opportunity to correct matters. Please take heed!
- You must immediately inform your Insurer that this is the situation or your insurance could become null and void.
- If you are a member of the iO, call them for advice – Georgina is very helpful indeed. (I strongly advise membership in order to help them to collectively do more for you as a group. I will also be meeting with them to see if there are any ways that we can collaborate.)
- If you are insured via the iO, Georgina can look over your response and give advice as to wording. The key thing is to say you’re sorry, that it was an oversight and and then get over it. I know that’s tough and not what you want to hear but THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO BE FIGHTING GOsC or the world at large! You can be struck off for showing no insight to your error or no remorse. Again, you probably won’t like this but it’s not worth being hauled up in front of the Disciplinary Committee. There may well be a better opportunity in the future to do something constructive.
- Do everything you have to do to ensure that you have ‘no case to answer’ and get back to what you do best!
I am told that it is possible to gather proper evidence of successful treatments but that it must be recorded in a controlled fashion. This is outside my remit but surely if everyone worked towards getting substantial evidence you could all benefit from the results. Call the iO for more information.
Please share this information with your groups, colleagues and help to get this battened down so that you guys are immune from this crusade.
I will do everything I can to support you in this and if you want some specific help from me, you can book some 1:1 with me. However, I must state that you are ultimately responsible for the content on your website and I can only give you my personal opinion.