Being outgoing when you are introverted is a learned skill, something that does not come naturally, and something that never feels completely comfortable. I was chatting with one of our receptionists the other day, who was feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of the job being upfront. I understand, and can relate, because I am inherently an introvert.
If you weren’t born with an outgoing personality, then you have to learn it through socialization. I think I may have missed out on some of those skills in early childhood. It’s likely a combination of nature and nurture. Watching my eldest niece interact at the playground in her toddler years made me understand that it is both. We would practice talking with her dolls, as if we were at the playground, and then I would prompt her when we were out, saying she could tell the girl she wanted to play with that she liked something of hers, like her shoes. Now she is much less shy, quite the opposite.
I still consider myself socially awkward, stumbling over my words, but now I just don’t care about it. In my younger years, I would feel my ears burning up with embarrassment of being the centre of attention, of being judged. Now, while at work on non-surgery days, which is 4/5 work days, we have back-to-back appointments, and it is exhausting. Having to pour your energy into being chatty, social, and friendly really zaps you. Handling demanding owners wanting to only speak to the doctor, and they won’t take recommendations through support staff, even if I have emailed them about it. It really is exhausting.
The reception job is even worse when it comes to handling the demands of clients. For people who are outgoing, maybe it doesn’t affect them as much, but I could tell this receptionist was on the verge of tears. In my younger days, thIs would have been me. It is so hard, to take all the heat and still try to smile and get through the rest of the day.
So I ask my support staff to look out for each other. If they start to hear a client raising their voice when reception is alone in the front, they need to casually walk out and make sure that receptionist has support.
I call myself an extroverted introvert, because I used to be a group fitness instructor. I can raise my voice when I need to, and when I’m passionate about something. But as I write this blog post, I now know why I am soooo exhausted from this job. It’s the constant talking and constant demands from clients. At my previous clinic, I used to love calling and following up with owners to see how their pets were doing after their visit. Talking all day with little down time is why on my days off, I can’t do anything social. Why my ability to even get out of bed or leave the house is lacking. Yes, it’s partly due to this depression. But it should be better with medication, and it’s not. At the last job, I had 20 minute appointments, but more breaks to catch up. There were only a few days where I felt there was too much human interaction. Now I may go 5 to 6 hours with no break in between. My catch up gets consumed by phone calls with owners or walk-in patients, and I’m ‘catching up’ at the end of the day, and finally working on my medical records. At least now I know why I am so tired!