Just the other day I was in a meeting with my Volunteer Director who was telling me about how the Executive Secretary for the clinic called her in a huff (my words not hers because the Volunteer Director is a very gracious woman). Apparently one of the volunteers sent a woman up to the third floor administrative suites when the person asked where they could take care of their bill. The secretary said, “What do we need to do to get YOUR volunteers to give the right information? We put a sign down there for them. This is a patient disastisfier.” The Volunteer Director told me she called the ninety year old volunteer to give her some education on what to do when patients asked about paying their bill and when she asked what the sign said, it was definitely not clear to her, so she was wondering how it could possibly be clear to her ninety year old volunteer.
I told her that we all needed to become naïve again. I wanted to somehow help this Executive Secretary understand this concept. I wanted her to get rid of her irritation and instead replace that with honor and praise for her devotion. Volunteers give freely of their time. They aren’t getting paid and they often add a lot to the patient experience.
So what does that saying mean? How does it relate to writing? Be patient. I’ll get us there.
I’d heard this saying, become naïve again, in a customer service training many years ago and it has always stayed with me. No matter what profession you are in, you become the expert and most of your customers don’t have a clue about your area of expertise. For me, that means that I probably get the same question about the Family Medical Leave Act or some other human resource law nearly every week. I might even get the same question from the same person who has forgotten the answer because the last time they asked was a year ago. I eat, live and breath human resource law. That’s what I do for a living. However, for everyone else I might as well be speaking a foreign language.
Thus the concept of becoming naïve again. I need to put myself in everyone else’s shoes and try to forget that I fundamentally know all the in and outs of my profession. I need to become naïve again. When I do that I can have the patience and grace to explain things over and over again without getting pissy or frustrated. Every single one of us in a helping or service profession, must learn to become naïve again.
This is especially true for the medical profession. Don’t you hate it when doctors or nurses start tossing around medical jargon that you have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. I’ve been in hospitals for over twenty five years and I still get lost in the vernacular sometimes. NPO, CBC, CAUTI, and the list goes on. They toss those terms around like candy during Mardi Gras. I always remind staff in our new employee orientation to become naïve again so that we can thoroughly explain everything to patients and families who are scared, sometimes alone, and often in pain.
Sometimes my beta editors have to remind me of this very concept when I write about things that are extremely clear to me, but my readers have absolutely no clue what I’m talking about. One of those was my use of the terminology, “fashion don’t”. My beta reader asked what is this?
I wrote back. “Haven’t you ever read Glamour magazine?”
I am sure she was laughing out loud at this point when she responded, “Do I seem like the type of person who reads Glamour?” I’m paraphrasing here….
Glamour used to have a section in their magazine where they would showcase people wearing certain outfits that they considered, fashion do’s and fashion don’ts. I’m not sure if that still is a feature because I haven’t glanced through the magazine in years. It was a favorite of one of my sister’s and out of boredom, and to be honest, the desire to see scantily clad beautiful women, I would sift through the pages.
This is why beta readers and editors are so important. Writers fundamentally know their story so it is easy to forget that a reader might not be able to pluck out what’s locked inside the writer’s head. Thus, I need to heed my own advice and become naïve again. I suppose this advice is just a different way of stating that sufficient detail is needed to create the emotion and connection to the story.
When I talked to my Volunteer Director the other day, I had an ah ha moment and understood more fully the concept of show, don’t tell because that trick alone helps me become naïve again.
I sure hope that my beta readers and editors caught all the times I failed to become naïve and you can enjoy my books without asking questions to yourself about what I was trying to convey!
A link to the first chapter of Asset Management: First Chapter of Asset Management,. My first novel, Love Forever, Live Forever, is available in both e-book and print format. Links below will get you to all the places you can purchase the book. Keep scrolling down for the links to Asset Management. Thanks for supporting a new writer!! Coming soon is my two new books, Out of This World and Locked Inside.
Here are the links to Asset Management: