Dear Fabulous Readers,

Happy New Year!

What a year it has been. As we reflect on our past year experiences and make new year intentions, what would you like to see in opticianry in 2022?

No doubt it can be difficult to muster wishful positive thoughts when our day-to-day professional environments have changed so much. Ms. Specs sees your challenges with patients on optical social media. I cringe with you when I read your posts about how some patients treat you. I wish I had a magic wand to bring back manners and respect to all of us. Alas, I do not have that magic wand. What I can do is offer my humble opinion of what we have control of and what we do not.

We do not have control over how people interact with us at work. In a perfect world, we would experience the good old days, particularly pre-Covid. We see people all around us who are stressed and short-tempered. Who knows why, but they seem to take it out on undeserving recipients; not just us, but also at grocery stores, coffee shops and other service-oriented businesses and professions. It is not fair.

What we do have control over, is how we interpret these behaviors, and how we react (or not react). Of all the traits Ms. Specs wishes to maximize the most, it is empathy. The ability to put oneself in another’s shoes is magical. Most agree that of all the senses, vision is the most precious, and fear of not having the best possible vision is real. Being able to afford the best of the best in optics is also not feasible for everyone, which adds to their stress.

Our patients are nervous about deciding on eyewear. This decision may be one that they will live with for two plus years. Every day. Visually. In the mirror. While the person sitting in front of us may be our 10th or even 20th patient of the day, for them, it is the first with us, and they likely feel vulnerable. Even if they are a repeat patient, this is still a foreign experience to them.

How can we make this process better for all of us? First and foremost, can we agree to try to walk in their shoes? Can we agree that most people do not know the difference between their medical and vision insurance without judging them? Can we agree that they do not know the difference between “transitional”/photochromic/progressive lenses? Can we agree that they sometimes have a pre-conceived false idea that we are overcharging them?

How can we do this? Just breathe. Be confident that the overwhelming percentage of society is good. When people act out, it is usually out of fear or discomfort. It is not personal. They are not challenging our expertise. They just don’t know.

If I were to make a list of Optical New Year Resolutions and Intentions, it would look like this:

  1. Practice empathy. Try to truly understand what my patients are feeling.
  2. Refrain from reacting when the person in front of me is acting unreasonably. Chances are, they are acting out because of a lack of understanding, insecurity and fear.
  3. Breathe, and breathe again. (And take one more deep breath… three time’s the charm!)
  4. Find humor in it all: Even make a silly joke and get them to laugh with you! Laughter is the antidote of stress.
  5. Don’t take it personally. Maybe you were put in their optical path to make the experience better than they could have ever imagined possible.
  6. Have confidence that you are all optical Rock Stars, while staying super humble.
  7. Finally, try to have fun! We are lucky enough to go around this beautiful world only once. Let’s make it the best journey ever!

Happy New Year Dearest Readers!

See Well and Be Well,
Ms. Specs in the City
Laurie Pierce, ABOM

Do you have a question for Ms. Specs? Please send your question to [email protected], and we may feature it in a future column.