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Why do so many horrible grumpy people become receptionists?!

(53 Posts)
QueenBean Tue 24-Jun-14 17:25:04

On the phone to my doctor's receptionist, on hold for 10 minutes and trying his absolute best not to give me an appointment. Moody, stroppy, totally unhelpful.

I never know why such grumpy people with such poor people skills become receptionists. You know it's your job to make appointments right?! Not to upset people by being so useless and unhelpful.

Why?! Why do they do it?!


Sleepthief Tue 24-Jun-14 17:29:42

Maybe becoming a receptionist turns you into a horrible grumpy person...

Itsjustmeagain Tue 24-Jun-14 17:30:57

I normally just smile A LOT as them and act as though I have just won the lottery generally it either rubs off or they give you want you want just to get rid of you!

Laurie33 Tue 24-Jun-14 17:33:50

I think it's more to do with them having to deal with horrible grumpy people all day.
I get what your saying school receptionists are also often grumpy. They spend their day dealing with ridiculous requests from stroppy parents who think it should be me rule for them and their offspring and sod everyone else.
Doctors receptionists have to follow the practise rules, they can't just magic appointments from thin air.

BuzzardBird Tue 24-Jun-14 17:34:04

I think it's us lot that make them that way, not the other way around sad

I know what you mean OP, not that all of them are like that I know, but the ones that are -I am thinking of the 2 receptionists that I encountered at a local private hospital recently, are the ones that give others a bad name!

BlondieBrownie Tue 24-Jun-14 17:36:37

I can't stand rude people on the phone. I rang my housing association the other day (I had just moved out of a Hostel) to report that I had no gas which meant that I had no hot water. She said 'I don't know why you haven't got any gas, check your cooker lights'.

I replied 'I don't have a cooker',

She said 'What do you cook with then?'

I replied 'I have a microwave'

She said 'What about meals for your children'

I said a little more forcefully than I should have 'Is your question in relation to the reason I have no gas or just general nosiness?'.

I have no white goods, it is a struggle but I am saving up to buy my own. I do not want to tell the world my story and I thought that she didn't have any right to know.

Im a receptionist (not a doctors ones though) and honestly the bizarre and downright ridiculous things people ask/ expect of you is unbelievable.

Im not grumpy though grin but I havent been there long and Im young so that could change!

Rabbitcar Tue 24-Jun-14 17:40:15

I am always extremely polite to receptionists, but the school/doctor ones are almost invariably rude. So sorry to generalise but it's true in my experience in London at least. And when the doctor ones are rude, it can be quite upsetting. I understand they may not have any appts, but if I'm speaking nicely, you should speak nicely back. No excuse for rudeness ever.

It's definitely the patients grin and some of the moody arse doctors plus some of the carers, the pharmacy, the outside clinics etc etc. Oh and the pay doesn't help matters..!

SecretNutellaFix Tue 24-Jun-14 17:44:38

Have you ever thought that it's dealing with impatient self important people who demand the impossible day in day out might make them that way?

QueenBean Tue 24-Jun-14 17:46:41

Yeah I totally understand that if you have people speaking to you in a grumpy way you'll get grumpy yourself.

A few years ago I worked for a City start up where the phones used to ring through to the main office if no one at reception was there. The rule was always to pick it up - you never knew if it was someone wanting to do some massive transaction so our CEO would occasionally pick it up. Always v amusing listening to people thinking they're through to reception, being rude, then having to turn on the charm when they realise it was the CEO.

With doctor receptionists though, sorry, but I have only ever once encountered a nice polite one who went out her way to help. I actually wrote in about her, she was so nice.

On this occasion I wasn't trying to "magic appointments" out of thin air thank you!

BreeVDKamp Tue 24-Jun-14 17:48:20

I think having a public-facing role makes you miserable rather than those roles only being filled by previously-grumpy people.

Zucker Tue 24-Jun-14 17:49:05

I'd imagine they start off nice and chirpy in their new receptionist job. Slowly but surely people talking to them like a piece of shit on their shoe will turn the most saintly into big old grumps.

BitOutOfPractice Tue 24-Jun-14 17:51:58

I think it's a bt disingenuos to say that "grumpy people make grump receptionists" because

a. I've been grumped at LOADS of times by receptionists when I have been very polite, cheery even

b. It's their JOB to deal professionally with everyone.

Idontseeanyicegiants Tue 24-Jun-14 17:53:07

The general public is usually the reason...
I worked as a GP receptionist ducks for cover and was lovely to even the biggest cocks to walk through the door but I did have a cow of a colleague. She was like that with everybody except the manager though, it was nothing personal.

SirChenjin Tue 24-Jun-14 17:55:12

What BitOutofPractice says. There is no formula for a grumpy receptionist - sometimes they are direct grumpy gits to start with, other times they become like that, other times they are having a bad day. I've come across all 3.

Deverethemuzzler Tue 24-Jun-14 17:55:22

I have been a receptionist and I was very helpful and tried my best to be friendly and calm at all times.

I was threatened with rape, called a racist, spat at, threatened with every type of assault, dealt with drunks, people who thought they were more important than anyone else, people who wouldn't listen to simple instructions, people with severe MH issues that caused them to be aggressive and unpredictable, through no fault of their own.
You also have the frantic, the grieving, the demented, the confused and the gravely ill.

I really loved my job but it was badly paid and dangerous with absolutely NO status or recognition.

But I also had colleagues who were a fucking nightmare and an embarrassment. Some people are just horrible and shouldn't work with the general public, specially ill or distressed people.

QueenBean Tue 24-Jun-14 17:55:46

Idontsee - see, you sound lovely. But your colleague - why oh why do the job if you so clearly hate it / don't want to do it / can't do a good job?

People for doctors are usually there because they're in pain or unwell and if anything, need to be spoken to a bit more gently than usual. Although I also get that they are more likely to be grumpy because they're in pain....

<pulls splinters from arse from fence sitting>

Sparklingbrook Tue 24-Jun-14 18:01:19

We have a 24 hour appointment booking line at our GPs. It is brilliant. You don't have to speak to anyone to make, amend or cancel an appointment.
It's great. You can speak to a Receptionist if you really have to but there's no need.

LadyLemongrab Tue 24-Jun-14 18:02:19

We're usually stuck between a rock and a hard place.
I'm admin/receptionist in a school and hate that the management team (business mgr, head and deputies) lay down the rules, which to my mind are petty and unhelpful, but I'm the one who has to enforce them.

I can't say "actually I'd love to help but I'm not allowed" so no doubt the parents think I'm a cantankerous bitch on a power trip.

We often think receptionists are there to help the public/customer but we're there to follow the procedures set out by our employers.

Most annoying is when I'm instructed to refuse something, parent badgers and badgers, I'll present parents arguments and pleas to Head who will still refuse, and block meeting parent as nothing to discuss. Parent then catches Head in playground who has no choice but to listen over again to everything I have already told them and then say 'oh of course we can do that, no problem at all!'

Then pops into my office and cheerfully tells me to do the thing I've been told for a week to refuse. No explanation, no sorry for putting you in an awkward position.

Parent then thinks I'm the problem, hates me, and so do all the other parents who get told about it.

Idontseeanyicegiants Tue 24-Jun-14 18:05:50

God knows QueenBee, she was a bloody nightmare!
I think/hope the good outweigh the bad, I've rarely come across bad receptionists, most have been completely professional.
thanks DeVere, I had a few threats myself, it's one of the reasons I'm now self employed!

stardusty5 Tue 24-Jun-14 18:09:42

LadyLemon i totally agree with you. While not a receptionist, I do find myself playing piggy in the middle between members of the public and staff who aren't keen to face them and defend their own decisions.

There's nothing worse than getting slaver from someone about a matter that you have no involvement or influence over, because you've been asked to defend things you don't necessarily agree with, all in the name of professionalism!

fluffyfanjo Tue 24-Jun-14 18:10:41

I spent 9 years as a Hospital receptionist and although I like to think I was polite and charming,the demands made upon me were at times unbelievable,not only from some rude patients,relatives and careers but from doctors other HCP's and management who expected us not only to administer a very busy clinic,cancel consultants lists,troubleshoot other peoples cock us,collect data relating to all sorts of stuff etc it was also our responsibility to ensure patient pathways were correctly recorded to ensuring the trust actually got payed.

As first point of contact you are in the line of fire for everyones frustrations - its YOUR fault if the clinic was running late,overbooked or the transport was late - it was even our fault if royal mail had failed to deliver a change of appointment letter !!

It was our fault if there were no appointments available when the patients wanted one,our fault if a consultant was on holiday and another one was running a clinic. I have had people turn up for appointments on the wrong day,week or even month,again It was my fault entirely. I have also been blamed about the last of car parking spaces.

This was in addition to giving general directions to members of the public.holding random babies and pushing wheel chairs etc...........

I'm sure the majority of the public thought All I did was smile sweetly and tick names of the list .

I'm now in a "higher status" role but i can assure you It was one of the hardest jobs I've ever done.

PipkinsPal Tue 24-Jun-14 18:12:19

You obviously are not a patient at the Surgery where I am a Receptionist. I was told yesterday, after being once again helpful that I am the best Receptionist the patient knows. She added that she knows quite a few and would happily shoot them shock.

My motto is - if I can do it I will. If I can't I will say why not. If I have an appointment I will give it to you, if I don't there is not a lot I can do and just apologise.

Perhaps the Receptionist the OP had dealings with was grumpy because there were no appointments available. A frustration I have daily and he probably does too. It's the Doctors who dictate how many patients they will see in a day, not the Receptionists.

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