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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Right To Yell?

Yesterday my office manager was speaking to one of our regular clients who have four pets we see.  One of them apparently had a ruptured anal sac and the client was wanting to get in right away to have it seen.  I was off yesterday and they prefer to see me, but we were completely booked up today so there wasn't an easy time for her to come in.  Knowing they were good clients my office manager was trying to work things out, but was explaing about our busy schedule.  That's when the client started yelling at her.

Being a professional, my manager calmly asked her not to yell and maintained her own cool.  The client said "I have a right to yell!"

Excuse me????

Since when is yelling at someone a "right"?  There is nothing in the US constitution about "freedom to yell", and I doubt any other countries state this.  I know of nowhere in the Bible explaining how God gives people an innate right to loud verbal exclamation.  In fact, the Bible speaks against such behavior.  So how can someone truly believe that they have a "right" to yell at someone else?

This kind of interaction happens more frequently than most people realize.  Clients can be unreasonable and have very hot tempers, sometimes taking it out on the veterinary staff.  I try to teach my employees to not respond back with similar behavior, and understand that the client may be upset, have had some other tragedy recently, or otherwise be unintentionally lashing out.  At the same time I tolerate such behavior from clients for only a short period of time.  If they become verbally abusive or simply unreasonably loud I will ask them to not yell, then warn that if they continue this behavior I will hang up on them.  Usually that calms them down and we can have a reasonable discussion.  But I have hung up on people that simply insist on yelling, cursing, and threatening.

There is no excuse for acting this way.  There is no excuse for yelling at someone who is trying to help.  And there most certainly is no "right to yell".

My office manager was actually on the verge of hanging up when the client calmed down enough that she could talk to the owner and arrange to have the pet squeezed in during this morning's appointments.  Thankfully the husband is much nicer than his wife and the appointment went well with quick treatment of the problem.  And no yelling from anyone.

3 comments:

  1. After client calmed down, did she apologize? I've lost my temper as a client on occasion and have apologized later. Also, I don't think God or the Constitution have anything to do with this issue, just simply civility.

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  2. No, she never apologized. I think that's because she firmly felt that she was justified in acting the way she did. I also agree that it's a civility issue; I mentioned God and the Constitution because those are the only places where we can find "rights", and nowhere does it say that there is a right to yell at someone.

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  3. Totally agree with this post. Well written, well reasoned. Though (just because I'm a bit of stickler for etiquette details), there could be some circumstances where yelling is the right thing to do, such as warning someone of danger.

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