GP appointments, specialist consultations and hospital visits. Prime time for anxiety to strike, to get tongue-tied and to forget that you’re an active participant in the proceedings. So here are 5 ways to come across as being assertive…
… even if you don’t feel it.
1. Be Concise
Appointments have a time limit, as does the average attention span. Sketch out what you want to say and in what order beforehand. Stick to the point, keep it short and sweet to avoid rambling, and avoid ambiguity. Be prepared so that you can make the most of your medical appointment – you can find more tips here.
2. Focus on your breathing
It’s easy to be out of breath when you’re worked up and anxious, especially if you’ve been waiting a while for this conversation.
Pay attention to how you’re breathing. Start by taking a few ‘belly breaths’,and notice how your body feels. Are you tense and rigid, or jittery? Relax your muscles, starting from your toes and working your way up. Change the position of your legs and feet; sit back on the chair rather than on the edge, roll your shoulders back, stretch your fingers and relax your hands.
After a few deep breaths, try to keep your breathing slow and steady, in through your nose and out through your mouth. This should also help to keep your tone level whilst you’re speaking, which is important if you find it raising in frustration! Be concise
3. Remember : the GP or specialist is only human, as are you
Both parties deserve to be listened to, to be spoken to in a respectful manner. They may not have all of the answers, but they have a job to do and you have the right to be there, to raise your concerns and ask your questions without feeling intimidated or rushed. Aim to leave the appointment with some form of resolution or an avenue to explore, and feeling that you have been heard and taken seriously. Don’t forget : You are an active participant.
4. Body language
Everyone knows the importance of posture, an open stance and eye contact, but it can be forgotten quickly under pressure. If it’s a face to face discussion, remember to dress and sit comfortably (not self-consciously tugging up your top or pulling your trouser legs down). Make eye contact and show that you have something important to say to them directly, not to the floor or the peeling paint on the walls.
5. Consider alternative outcomes
It’s easy to be caught off guard by a question, response or comment that we’re not expecting. Run through some of the alternative scenarios and outcomes so that you don’t feel totally lost if they do arise.