I hate “assertiveness”. I just don’t understand why people think that just repeating themselves louder will make the person they are yelling at more receptive to their point of view.

Here’s today’s example. A lady came into the clinic I was at and wanted a blood test drawn on her horse. It is a very common test required at big shows and if you are driving across state lines. It is good for a year so lots of people just routinely get it once a year for whatever comes up. But this lady didn’t. Now she needs it for next Friday. It takes about a week to get it back from the state. Here’s the problem. The vet that does farm calls is on vacation. I was hired to do small animal only. Not to go traipsing through the country side because she neglected to think ahead.

The receptionist explained the dilemma that they didn’t have a person who was doing farm calls. She offered the lady the option of bringing the horse to us and I could run outside between appointments and pull the blood. At this point the lady starts repeating her demand louder. I could hear her in the back of the clinic and my only thought was, “She comes in here because she needs us to basically do her a favor so shouldn’t she maybe be nice?” Perhaps, the “I know I screwed up because I didn’t get this done early and now all of a sudden I have to ship this horse. Is there any way we could work this out?” approach would be the way to go. Not because we are evil and want to see her grovel but because she was asking us to drop everything we were doing to accomodate her RIGHT NOW! It wasn’t like she called and asked to schedule a time. She showed up and demanded that someone follow her to her house right that second with no concern for people with scheduled appointments or for our hospitalized patients that I happened to be treating at that exact second.

I did end up going because I like horses and we were trying to be accomodating even if she was being a bitch being assertive about her needs. Besides service industries like ours have ways of getting back at mean people. Mean people pay more. We don’t charge for things you didn’t receive but say there is a range for the cost of the farm call. I promise you will pay the highest cost in the range if you are mean where I may have cut you a break if you were nice. I know one vet who kept letting a very mean man bring his horses to the clinic because he added so much in increased fees for his nastiness that the vet was able to smile serenely at the guy every time he saw him. I learned this when the bad man called to complain that I had refused to beat his horse the day before. (Yes, I refused to beat his horse and he wanted me fired. I refused to let him beat the horse either.) The vet listened to the tirade, hung up, and then smiled at me and said, “Add $50 to the surgery fee.”