When a patient was very late for an appointment (basically, they missed the appointment because they arrived more than 15 minutes late,) someone from our front office staff would often come back and ask if we would still see the patient.

When I said, “Yes,” as I most often did, the next question was usually, “Are you sure?”

I always hated this question. I already said I’d do it, now I have to reassure you that it’s really okay? I have to smile and pretend it’s not going to cut out the 15 minutes I had left in my schedule for lunch?

What I really wanted to say when asked to see an extra patient (because that’s what it was at that point, since their appointment time had passed and the rest of my schedule was full) was something like this: “Oh, my God, I’m never going to finish my day and this is just one more thing between me and food, me and a pee break, me and sleep. How can you ask me for one more thing?

Now I realize one of the reasons I resented the question so much was because my yes was a dishonest one: I said “yes” because I thought the front staff person would think badly of me if I said “no.”

Wouldn’t it have been better to base my answer on whether or not I thought I could actually see the extra patient in a timely manner? Or whether or not it would destroy my schedule? Or based on the severity of the patient’s medical complaint?

Today I know I can’t control what someone else thinks of me, so I give others permission to think whatever they want.

That clears away the emotional clutter and allows me to make decisions with my whole heart and my whole mind.

What’s your honest answer to the last request made of you?