Your Bedside Manner

Hey, there!

I want to share something with you that happened to me recently. I’d been suffering with a Group A Streptococcus infection. And it’s made me think about how we interact with our clients as voice over talent.

Let me explain.

This infection manifested in a large, ugly and debilitating abscess invading my upper lip. And, I’ll be honest: I got scared when it wouldn’t go away. It affected my speech, my look and my well being.

Having this happen illustrated something: we’re often most frightened of what we don’t know. I had no idea how to get rid of it. I had no idea what it might become. I even had no idea what to do to make it feel less painful. And I envisioned my voice and acting career suffering because of this…thing…on my face.

All kinds of things started creeping in to my thoughts. And my friends were Google-ing all the phrases associated with this condition. I adored reading that it could invade my brain and render me a vegetable. It might be staph. It might be strep. God help me if it’s MRSA.

The original doctor that I saw at the Motion Picture Clinic told me it was too early to do anything about it. That changed 4 days later when it tripled in size.

I was, in a word, depressed. I saw my world crashing around me with no end in sight. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I was in constant pain and people couldn’t understand me.

Just when I’d given up hope, a referral to an eye-nose-throat doctor changed everything.

I first went to a plastic surgeon, who had repaired a dog bite (on the same lip). It was now, six years later, almost invisible. Thankfully, she decided this wasn’t a job for her, but “she had the guy for me.”

And boy did she.

I went to see Dr. Warren Line here in LA, and from the moment he walked into the exam room, I knew everything was going to be just fine. His manner was confident, humorous (“I’m going to numb you now. But don’t worry – it’s not going to hurt me one bit.”) and reassuring. He looked at me, told me what was going on, and described how he was going to fix it.

And then he said something that I’ve given as a phrase to you all for years: “I’ve got this. Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.”

That’s the kind of language that seals deals. That’s the kind of response to a client’s problem that makes them happy they hired you. And all too often, we forget that we are in the business of fixing things for our clients. Removing their pain. Making things better.

How’s your bedside manner these days?

When a client tells you they need a spot done with pretty fast turnaround, do you silently curse them? Do you whisper to yourself “Yeah, well, your crisis isn’t my responsibility!”

Or, do you cement your relationship with them by saying, “Not a problem. I can rearrange some other stuff I’m working on to take care of you. There’s a rush fee, but I’ve got this. Don’t worry. I’ll have it for you when you need it.”

The good news is, if you took a look at me today, three days after seeing the ENT doctor, you’d be hard-pressed to even notice that anything had happened. And I am one happy actor.

Because I was afraid of what I didn’t know, and I got some world-class caregiving.

What kind of caregiving do you give? Let me know in the comments below.

Hope this helps!


18 Responses to Your Bedside Manner

  1. Kelli February 16, 2016 at 7:58 pm #

    I’m SO GLAD you are feeling better!!! And thankfully, it sounds like this chapter is coming to an end. Hitchcock was able to use our fears to terrify us. Sometimes we can do it all by ourself.

  2. Lawrence Wallison February 16, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

    David, it’s a horror reading what you’ve been through, while an immense relief knowing you’re better. Stay well!

  3. John Zak February 17, 2016 at 2:03 am #

    I am so very happy to hear of this outcome. I am also so grateful to have had a long career as a union member. My health plan has allowed me, as well, to find a wonderful doctor, and to get great medical care. Thank you, DGA! There are multiple lessons here. Thank you, David, for sharing.

  4. Stu Norfleet February 17, 2016 at 6:21 am #

    Sorry you had to go through this, but you have used your discomfort to share a PROFOUND “Customer Service” lesson with the rest of us! I, for one, am going to take this to heart! Many thanks!

  5. Larry A. Brewer February 17, 2016 at 8:11 am #

    I’m glad your doing better and sorry you when through that.
    I too have been having a crisis. My step-daughter has been hospitalized twice while I’m working on a contract deadline for the latest book I’m narrating.
    I notified the rights holder that I may not finish this project by the deadline stated in the contract.
    Thankfully, the rights hold has been very understanding!
    He too holds the same “don’t worry. I’ve got this” sentiment and is willing to work with me will I try to deal with my family problems.
    So…When problems arise be sure you let folks know about them and, most of the time, they’ll be willing to work with you.

  6. Stephanie February 17, 2016 at 8:21 am #

    Sorry you had to go through this but glad you got it taken care of. If you have time there is an amazing book that just came out about this and many other health issues that are taking over. It has really helped me and you might be surprised by the information. It’s called Medical Medium and you can get it on Amazon. Feel better and thank you for this post, great one.

  7. Richard Rieman February 17, 2016 at 9:44 am #

    Glad you’re feeling better, David! Thanks for making your health crisis into a helpful lesson for us.

  8. Steve Krumlauf February 17, 2016 at 11:36 am #

    So glad to hear you’re out of the woods, David, and as our three year-old grandson would say, “All better!” Thanks for the great reminder about what great customer service is all about!

  9. Anika C February 17, 2016 at 10:38 pm #

    Add my name to the long list of people who are glad you’re healing well. And, thank you for this post. In answer to your query, my bedside manner’s pretty good. I do workshops with hundreds of kids every year, the goal of which is to help them identify, challenge & eliminate discrimination of all kinds. We collect anonymous surveys at the end of every workshop. Kids like me, because I’m fun and I talk to them like they are real people. But, that’s just popularity. What I value is the fact that so many of my clients have written in comments like, “She’s not just saying stuff. She really cares about us.”

    At my last customer service gig, after multiple dealings with a 25-year client’s order, which was totally FUBAR, thanks to 5 other careless agents, I listened to said client rant for 30 minutes. (Someone on the production floor made yet another error.) Despite her frustration with the marked decline in the company’s products and service, she was very pleased with the care I gave her. She kept saying, “You get it. You really get it.”

    Ever take the Strengthsfinder test? My friend had me do it. Individualization is one of my top 5. I’m better suited to provide a bespoke service to a particular person than to bang out cookie-cutter anything. But, it slows me down. One boss kept at me because, despite ultra-positive client feedback, I averaged 2 minutes more per call than others.

    • David H. Lawrence XVII February 17, 2016 at 11:59 pm #

      Awesome! The lovely Betsy is a Gallup-certified StrengthsFinder coach, who had me take the test when we first started dating. When she reviewed the results, she instantly decided I was a keeper. :-)

  10. Terri D November 15, 2018 at 6:14 am #

    Interesting perspective and certainly food for thought. Glad there is a happy ending.

  11. Jeff Kelly November 15, 2018 at 6:38 am #

    We may not be doctors but we play them on TV. It’s always the fear of the unknown that makes us so helpless.

  12. Jackie November 15, 2018 at 7:14 am #

    Omgsh, David! I’m happy you’re okay now,… how very frightening! I love this article, but i’m sorry you had to use an infection to get the point across. Heal well

  13. Joseph Narducci November 15, 2018 at 8:54 am #

    I echo everyone here that I am glad your feeling better.

    The wisdom in this article cannot be stated enough. People get hired all the time for their talent, but never hired again because of their panic. Happens all the time here where I work on productions. Sobering article to help all of us see what a gift we can be for clients who need a miracle, and hey, were here to help! Thanks David.

  14. Michael Ehrenberg November 15, 2018 at 3:15 pm #

    David! Just reading this and thrilled you are beyond healing! An open mind like you have can create new thoughts, ideas and metaphors that catapult our humanity to new heights! I sure GOT THIS!
    Keep healing!

  15. Michael Sessums November 16, 2018 at 12:56 am #

    Great lesson, and I’m so glad you’re better!

  16. Marlon Braccia November 16, 2018 at 8:12 am #

    What may I ask it the motion picture clinic?

  17. Veleka Gray November 17, 2018 at 12:43 am #

    David, so glad you have that handled. What would we do without you? ♥

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