I’ve been thinking a lot lately about restaurants and how the first encounter with whoever seats you really sets the stage for what the meal’s experience will ultimately be. Now I know you might be wondering how this thought even relates to speech therapy. Does it? Yes, it does, trust me (haha!). Just keep on reading and I pinky promise that I will get us there. But before I transition this body of text into something that makes sense to us speech-language pathologists, I feel like I need to describe a couple of typical restaurant greetings that I’m sure every single one of you have encountered before.
Those rushed greetings that feel as if the person doesn’t care.
Sometimes I will walk into a restaurant and the first thing that the employee says is . . .
Um, what?! How many?! That’s the FIRST thing you say?! Not even a hello?! Or a hi?! Yikes. From an SLP’s point of view, this rushed attempt at communicating to me is pure torture to hear. It almost sounds like nails on a chalkboard. And no matter how great the food is, that type of first (rushed) impression seems to always leave such a bad taste in my mouth.
Now let’s take a moment to transition that scenario to a speech therapy one (see, I told you I’d get us there, haha!).
Sometimes when I’m in a bit of a hurry, I find myself picking up my students for services and I will say obviously rushed greetings to them (just like those rushed restaurant people). I would say lines like “time for speech” or “come on, let’s go to the speech room.”Not even a hello or a hi first, just one of those empty and embarrassing attempts at communicating.
Ugh! What’s wrong with me?! How embarrassing.
Now, just imagine how my rushed greeting negatively sets the stage in speech therapy. Those rushed types of greetings are communicating, loud and clear, that I’m not in the moment and that my mind is somewhere else (when it shouldn’t be somewhere else, it should be on my students and in that moment). That’s a terrible thing to be communicating. Just. Terrible.
Let’s be intentional with our greetings and let’s not rush.
I know I can’t be the only SLP out there that has ever given a rushed greeting to a student. It happens to the best of us sometimes, right? Sure. But from here on out, I’m making a very real and conscience decision to be more mindful with the greetings that I choose to use. I want to be more intentional with my words and I want to remember that my greetings can either positively or negatively set the stage in speech therapy. From here on out I’m choosing to adopt a new collection of non-rushed and ultra positive greetings that I promise to say to each and every single one of my students (regardless of how rushed I may or may not be).
Here are some of my favorites that I will use (and feel free to use them, too):
- I’m so happy you’re here today! Let’s head on over to speech.
- Yes! There he/she is! Let’s head on over to speech.
- The one and only (insert name here)! Let’s head on over to speech.
- Woo hoo! We’re going to have a blast today! Let’s head on over to speech.
- Hey smart cookie! Let’s head on over to speech.
- You make me smile wider than a school bus! Let’s head on over to speech.
- I have such a great activity planned just for you! Let’s head on over to speech.
- I’m so pumped I get to hangout with you today! Let’s head on over to speech.
In closing . . .
Imagine how spectacular we would feel if we walked into a restaurant and they said something along the lines of “oh fantastic, you’re here! We’ve been waiting for you. Let me take you over to your table.” We would feel ecstatic and that type of greeting would absolutely set the stage for one memorable dining experience. Well, we can do the EXACT same thing as SLPs in the school-setting with our initial greetings as we transition our students from whatever room they are currently in to our speech therapy rooms. We can (and should) make them feel like VIPs because they are. So, let’s all re-think the way we greet the children on our caseloads. Cool? Cool!