5 Tips on Dealing with a Receptionist

I've been a receptionist for seven years, depressing right?  At first it was cool because I was in college, I've been out of college since early last year so now it's getting sad.  24 years old working with people who knew me when I was 17 is not cool.  Especially when some of them forget that I was 17 when I started and I get the occasional "When do you graduate school?"

In all fairness that hasn't happened in awhile, but I'm going to help you out by sharing with you why some receptionists are the way they are.

I want to preface all of this by saying that some people are just mean and terrible, but a lot of this can be avoided if you educate yourself.

Imagine that you're a receptionist.  Which is a nice way of saying that you're a glorified babysitter (in the case of assisted living facilities/ nursing homes).  I'm sure you're probably thinking, 'Don't nurses watch the residents?'  Ha!  Hell no.  Receptionists sit near the door, so we answer the calls, direct the visitors, handle issues, watch residents and write blogs about this whole depressing situation.

When no one is looking, sometimes we do this.

1. Realize.  No receptionist wants to be a receptionist.
Unless you probably work for Microsoft, no one wants this frickin job.  It's the job that has the most vague job description ever!  'And any other responsibilities assigned to your position.' That's in there!  Grab a bunch of kids get them together and ask them what they want to be when they grow up.  Doctor, Lawyer, Fireman!  No one will ever say receptionist.  That's what I want to be.  Yeah!  Not unless you have really low standards.

2.  Be Nice.  We are less inclined to help when people are mean.
You would think that this is a 'duh' moment, but you'd be amazed at the number of people who walk through those doors and demand...yes, demand that we do whatever they ask.  Yes, it's our job, but we're still people.  We're not going to want to do anything for you if you're mean.

3. Don't assume.  Here's a little secret:  The desk and phone mean nothing.
We have NO power.  Just because we have a desk, a phone, and the ability to over head page people it does not mean that we can make the people in the hospital do their jobs.  I just spent the last fifteen minutes in front of a woman searching for maintenance.  I can't make the maintenance guy take care of your aunt's appliances RIGHT NOW.  You heard the call, while I sat here and called him for you.  What do you want me to do?  Threaten to fire him?  Ha!  Hahaha.  You're funny.  We can't fire him.  We don't even have the power to write anyone up.  We get abused by everyone.  Visitors, patients, employees.

Look!  She looks like she's going to punch that stupid man in the face.
He doesn't eve work there.

4.  We have memories.
Receptionists are almost like waitresses.  You know how waitresses remember who the best tippers are?  Well you can't tip us, we'll get fired if we accept a tip.  Not that I would accept it, the eternal fear that I have that my boss set the whole thing up to see if I would take it or not.  They haven't done it before, but I don't want to be the first.
If a receptionist remembers you it's either a really good thing or a really bad thing.  They guy in 250 yelled at me the other day so when people come in and ask for him I know already.  The family smiles at each other and asks, "Does he get a lot of visitors?"  I look up, chuckle and say "No."  When I really want to say, he's a pain in the ass.

5. Stupid things people say / Popular phrases I hear.

Threats are HILARIOUS. 

Sure, threaten a receptionist, that'll make you want to help you get want you want FASTER.  Now that you've threatened me, I just want to do whatever you ask.

Here's my favorite.
'I'm going to sue you for all you're worth.'
A--I'm a receptionist!  I ain't worth much honey.
B--You can't sue me for enforcing hospital policy.  You'll be suing the hospital, and I'll probably be cheering you on.  So go on, sue the hospital.  But saying it like it's a threat is always pretty damn funny.

It's like saying, "I'm going to give your boss the worst headache of her life!!"  Go for it buddy!

'You can't do this.'

I'M not doing anything.  Another thing that would be good to realize that its' not personal.  I don't know you from a can of paint.  I've forgotten you before you left.  After sitting here for a few hours, Britney Spears could walk in here and I could still be in a daze just waiting for the shift to be over.

Name calling.
Read above.  I don't care who you are, give me a reason why I should.  If I do happen to remember you, I'll probably do as least as I can to help you whenever I see you because why should I put out the energy when I could be helping someone much, much nicer.

Lastly, the nicer you are, the more a receptionist will remember you.  Sure, it's probably all bs and you think I'm a high school drop out or dumb as a box of rocks but you cared enough to PRETEND.  That's good enough for me.

This is especially true for an assisted living facility, the nicest residents who have the worst memory's are the easiest to deal with.  They can come to me 10 times in 20 minutes and ask me the same questions and the every time I give them the same answer, but if a rude, angry, crazy resident comes up to me all wild and crazy.  It becomes very, very difficult because they don't go away and the whole shift is miserable.


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