Talking to Professionals

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Usually, I’m just unlucky. I’m not like my father who regularly wins radio contests, or my friend who wins something from every raffle she enters. I have to work to keep things rolling smoothly, which at times isn’t pleasant. Recently, I had to brave my lawyer’s office and the assistant-who-knows-everything in order to garner a break from the universe. But believe me, the hassle was worth the revelation.


The reason for my visit that fateful day was to inquire about an application that has been in process for four months. Said application was to have taken a maximum of three months and currently is still not resolved. I really am that unlucky. Fortunately, I happened to be with two friends of mine. Of course they were the ones who had to physically coerce me into going into the office to begin with, as the thought of facing the evil assistant was paralyzing to me. I would almost rather the issue go unresolved than step through those office doors. My anxiety was uncontrollable when the leering assistant peered at me through her giant spectacles. After inquiring about the status of my application and being told it was “in process,” I quietly tucked my tail between my legs and turned to make my escape.


At this point, one of my friends interjected to ask more specific questions about what “in process” meant, after which followed a brief, albeit tense, discussion and several confessions of “I don’t know” from the assistant. My other friend asked whether or not I could get an appointment to see the lawyer to address her gaps in knowledge and amazingly, I was given an appointment for the following week. Walking out, I felt an enormous sense of relief. I was devastated about my application but strangely, completely inspired. How was it that my good friends knew how to talk to professionals, knew how to get what was needed out of the situation, knew how to move forward without being intimidated and I didn’t? Or did I?


Too often it is daunting to face professionals as they are the experts in their fields. They know so much and have a tough time relating that information into lay terms. I have worked with many parents of special-needs children who simply go along with whatever the therapists are telling them simply because of the “white coat” factor, when really, these parents need to be involved in every step of their child’s treatment, asking questions, and inquiring about the practices of professionals. Some parents do this really well and others struggle like me.


Reflecting on my professional career as a social worker, I realized that I have had to deal with doctors, nurses, lawyers, judges, business owners, and politicians—powerful people to say the least—and advocate for the needs of my clients. How is it that I could speak out for others, but couldn’t find a voice for myself? Is it because I’m working on behalf of someone else? I have my professional hat on? I don’t have the answers, it’s something I’m working on. One thing is for certain however, I have given myself permission to be empowered. That means the next time I face the lawyer’s assistant or the lawyer or the doctor, I can ask the questions that need answering to get the information and results I need. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll even be lucky enough to have my application move from being “in process” to “approved.”


 

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