July 28, 2010

Selling Yourself

A guest post by Josh Scafe, Account Manager at Find Touch.

As the account manager over here at Find Touch, I interact with a lot of people throughout my week. And something that has been coming up quite frequently in my conversations over the past couple weeks is the role that sales plays in our daily life. Obviously, as the account manager here I cannot avoid selling, and sometimes it is true that companies or services or even people can sell themselves without even really trying, but I find that this is the exception and not the rule. Sales and selling is an important part of succeeding in life.

As an account manager, I need to sell potential clients on our services here at Find Touch, as a student I need to sell my professors that I have learned the course material and can present my thoughts clearly and critically about what I have learned. When I think about it, I even had to sell my significant other that I wasn't a bum and that she should date me. So really, when I think about it, sales and selling permeates some level of our daily interactions.

Sales are imperative to the interview process, without selling one's self to a potential employer, the chances of acquiring a job are impossible. In addition, businesses must sell their services, and therefore it is impossible to escape the role sales play for people who would not normally consider themselves to be salespeople. I have heard frequently that therapists are attracted to massage therapy because it is not a traditional career path and that by some extension of massage therapy's non-traditional career values, that massage therapists won't have to engage in any traditional sales techniques. I think that this is simply not the case. Sales is built into our lives and we sell ourselves all the time whether we know it or not. Not being conscious of this, and therefore doing a poor job of selling oneself, is detrimental to one's career, even when we pursue a non-traditional career path.

When I speak of sales, I mean building a certain level of trust between two people. Building a certain level of trust is key to any successful transaction or a relationship in general. If you cannot sell yourself to another person during in-person interaction, whether that be an interview, a massage session or a sales call, then that other person has no reason to want to see you again or do business with you. Let's face it, sales plays a larger role in the massage industry then most therapists or patients would ideally like to see, but running from the fact that sales is important in our professional relationships is naïve.

Therapists can take the same ideas from massage and apply them to sales. This involves listening, honesty and patience. This is how I try to do business, and I find that when I accept that sales is a part of my everyday activity, the pressure is relieved from acknowledging that I can be who I am and still be an effective salesperson, that by really listening, and by having clear intentions and by being honest with myself and others, I begin to see past the idea of "sales" and see each interaction as a chance to build a relationship with someone, to leave a lasting impression.. As professionals, we sell ourselves everyday! By acknowledging this and preparing for it, we can succeed at becoming successful salespeople and human beings.

July 26, 2010

Headaches and the Experienced Acupuncturist

Acupuncture is often used to treat headaches, but how many massage therapists understand how these treatments can help their clients in a course of therapy?

This article is the second in a series of articles about headaches and therapies. The first article is here.

Dr. Ron Bieler (website), a licensed acupuncturist practicing in Costa Mesa, Calif., offers some help. Although the mechanisms of headache are poorly understood, he says it seems headaches come from tension concentrated in the head and neck.

“Some people just tend to collect their tension in this area, while others will collect tension in the low back or feet,” he said.

Bieler, who has practiced acupuncture for 20 years, begins by examining the hara, the area in the center of the body where the main meridians pass. Hara-based treatments are a Japanese concept used in addition to the traditional Chinese medicine starting points of pulses or tongue color, he said.

First, he checks for congestion or active with a blunt, pen-like probe, asking the patient if one spot is more tender than another.

Once he identifies the tender points, he uses acupuncture needles to alter the energy flow. Headaches begin to wane as the congestion clears from liver or spleen meridians.

When energy flow in the meridians have been restored to optimum, he asks questions and counsels the patient about possible causes such as disturbances in the menses or problems caused by lifestyle such as diet and overwork.

These problems can also respond to treatment via other meridians, but the patient is ultimately in charge of what needs to be done to keep headaches away.

Sound familiar, massage therapists?

Bieler adds that about six visits will deal with most headache patterns, but the occasional tune-up may be required. If people are experiencing extra stress or injury, the headaches may try to re-establish their patterns again.

Once the headaches subside, patients will often ask for additional treatment with less pressing problems such as back pain or sleep disturbances, something massage therapists often observe in massage clients.

July 19, 2010

Teachers are a Source of Forced Inspiration

Well, this is the time of year that teachers show up for their end-of-the-school-year tune-up. And I must say I am impressed. When you think about it, teachers have to control and perform all day for an unruly, immature crowd prone to heckling. Talk about performance anxiety and fatigue.

One of my teachers has got the Zen. He has figured out how to live on the teacher salary (!) without taking a summer job. He spends these next few months surfing. I’m really just in charge of his surfing tune-ups.

But another client might be more typical. She’s got head/neck pain radiating from a career spent speaking with her scalenes. Picture her holding the book in front of her, wondering why she gets all the FCA’s in her class (Future Criminals of America) and working on a daily massive thoracic/trapezius headache. Breaking into that pattern just might be my life’s work.

Come to think of it, most of the teachers I see are prime sources of forced inspiration. They may suddenly have to shift from their lecture voice to their damage control scream.

Gripping the book, they try to convey meaning, control other people’s actions with their minds, and remain hyper-vigilant to sudden fits of fighting, narcolepsy and vomiting. It takes a steady hand to do all this and use the diaphragm to breathe, gently massaging the organs and feeling the warmth of the earth’s renewable energy. I’m surprised schools feature faculty lunchrooms instead of emergency massage clinics. Or elephant-gun doses of anti-anxiety medications, such as scotch.

In the big picture, I must say, it is hats-off day to those people, zen or un-zen who can deal with all the “little” people. They are much mightier than I.

July 14, 2010

Girls, Boys, and Gender Preference

Often, it seems, clients will "prefer" a female therapist over a male therapist, and this is true whether the client is female or male. Doesn't seem very fair to the male therapists, but before we address that subject, let's look at some possible reasons for such preference:

1. Culture/Society: It's no secret that some of America's first settlers were Puritans, and that complicated view of sexuality mixed with religon mixed with any kind of nudity stills impacts clients in ways they probably don't even realize whether they actively partipate in any kind of dogma. Therefore, it may seem more proper or safer for a female client to see a female therapist. To that slice of the culture, add the part where men don't really touch other men often unless they are (a) very drunk or (b) very involved in winning sports events or (c) haven't seen each other in 20 years and have been thinking each other dead. In parts of North Africa, straight male friends kiss on the lips when they meet. In India, men walk around with their arms around each other's neck in a kind of half-embrace. In some countries, it's even okay for male friends to hold hands. But in America, my father didn't wear the color pink until the early 1990's, and even then it wasn't a PINK pink. Now, while things have changed somewhat, and lots of manly American men wear certain pastels these days, I think you see where I'm going here: to some male clients, seeing a male therapist may seem emasculating.

2. Trauma: I'm thinking mostly of female clients here, but male clients may have had traumatic experiences as well that may make them feel too vulnerable with a male therapist. And I'm not just talking about rape, although that and any kind of sexual abuse from childhood to the present can have an impact on gender preference. Most of us, especially women, have been subjected to countless advertising campaigns aimed at convincing us that we are just too ugly and weird for words: wrong shape, wrong size, too much hip, too little breast, etc. And when you feel that your body is anywhere from imperfect to just plain gross, you may be less likely to want a man--the gender that is often touted as the one who decides your worthiness for relationships, etc.--to massage you. I once heard of a blind male therapist who when asked how he thought he could sell himself to female clientele, simply remarked, "I can't see them."

This are two major reasons, and there are others, I'm sure. Now is all this fair to the average male therapist? No, not at all. So what can be done about it?

1. Give an Extra-Compelling Massage: It may not be fair that a male therapist has to work harder to "prove" himself to female clients, but I've often seen it work this way. I know several excellent male therapists who never have booking problems because their work is fantastic, promotes change, and hence their largely-female client base refers the hell out of them. One of my personal favorite therapists is over six feet tall, built like a bull, wears a utili-kilt, has long hair braided down his back, wears a full beard, and looks like he could win the blue ribbon at the local Highland Games. He's also professional, treatment-specific, listens to my needs, and always promotes healthy change in my body with the type of great strength that I appreciate in deep tissue work. If he were giving fluff-and-buff massages, there would be no difference in booking with him and someone named Candi who dots her i's with hearts.

2. Pour Out Good Intentions: I think both male and female therapists should do this, but it may be more important to for a male therapist to show a wavering female client that this is a workable working relationship by radiating a professional, caring, helpful aura.

3. Train the Front Desk to Promote Male Therapists: Self-emloyed male therapists are responsible for promoting themselves, but in a clinic or studio environment, male therapists may be no where near the appointment book when calls come in. Front desk staff need to know why clients may prefer females over males and be prepared to combat any concerns, mythologies, etc. in subtle ways. For example, "Are you sure you don't want the 2 pm? Jim is the kindest man, and I love the way he always helps loosen up my bad right hip." Of course this assumes that the front desk cares about both client and therapist welfare and gets regular massage (if not all of these things are true, they'll need to be tended to as well).

Again, I sometimes feel that male therapists have to work a little harder to get appointments, and that's a shame. On the other hand, it isn't "racist" to ask for a female over a male, as I heard one male therapist say (personally, I was confused as the question has nothing to do with race, only with gender). It's simply a function of preference, and as I've tried to point out, preference may not always be well-founded or logical. So it's up to us, the therapists, and our support staff, to show clients that healing work is actually gender-blind.

July 11, 2010

Professional Courtesy Between Chiropractors and Massage Therapists

A guest article by Annie Ochoa, LMP. 

Can we talk about what it means to demonstrate Professional courtesy between Chiropractors and Massage Therapists?

Before I begin, I feel it is important to provide some background information on myself so that the ideas and suggestions that I am presenting in this discussion has a deeper and fuller meaning. I am a body worker that has created 2 clinics and worked either solo, or with other LMP’s or Acupuncturists and have also worked as an employee for several Chiropractors.  I have seen firsthand the differences between being self-employed and working as someone else’s employee.  I am currently in my 17th year of body work and feel quite accomplished in my abilities.

Like many others, I have had lots of business experience prior to my “left turn” into body work.  I have done everything from selling diamonds to working with Quality Assurance documentation for Nuclear Power Plant Components, and worked for a local Savings and Loan for 11 years, nearly won their National Speech Contest and was preparing for management when I jumped ship and transformed into a dedicated massage therapist!

When we as therapists communicate with a potential employer – it is as a professional Massage Therapist.  Even if we just graduated from Massage School, we have spent long hours studying Anatomy and Physiology, Massage Theory and Practice, Kinesiology, etc.  We were required to know specific techniques and were tested thoroughly by our schools, and then by either the state or national boards. We have spent thousands of dollars, and polished our skills – and most of us have done this as a career change. We are serious about our work and are very dedicated.

At Find Touch, we have an amazing opportunity to search for and to actually be alerted by email to a potential employer through this wonderful service.  We can find opportunities to improve our current circumstances by finding a “better fit” with an employer, negotiate better pay, or just start out!  But to do this successfully, there are some things we need to consider.

I was recently contacted by a Chiropractic firm and tried to respond to them in as positive a way as possible.  My feelings were: before I make a major investment with someone, and in order to be fair to us both, I simply had some questions about how they function, BEFORE I tell them I'd love to come in for an interview.

I was very polite, told them I really appreciated their time.  They got irritated when I tried to find out more about them and told me if I wasn't serious about applying then they didn't want to answer any more questions!
If I wasn't serious, I wouldn't waste my time asking important questions!  After a couple of attempts to get my questions answered politely, I told them nicely that I was very serious, but since my asking questions bothered them, I wished them simply a successful year and I stopped speaking with them.

Find Touch has been incredibly supportive of my views on this subject and I’d like to share some of my ideas about what my years of experience have taught me:

1.    First of all, to show professional courtesy, we need to respond immediately. We want our future employer to know that we are serious about finding a job and really appreciate their taking the time to review our information, and finding our information attractive enough to ask for an interview.  So let us be prompt.  It looks good on us as professional massage therapists, and on Find Touch as a helpful and innovative business providing an excellent online service for both Chiropractors and Employers. 

2.     Chiropractors need to realize that we therapists have just as much right to interview THEM as they do in interviewing US.  We are talking about a two-way relationship, and it has to be a mutual relationship of kindness and respect.  Take some time to create questions to ask your potential employer before actually going in to be interviewed by them.

After going to a few interviews and finding there were some issues with those employers that were deal breakers for me, I began to ask them a few questions online before going all the way over for an interview which felt like a waste of both of our time!

Some sample questions that I have for a potential employer would be:

a)    Do you pay all massage therapists the same no matter how many years of experience they have? Seems to me that if someone has invested 5, 10, 15 years of expensive continuing education and many hours of their lives in learning new materials, they should be paid more than someone who just got out of school as they will have more experience and greater “tools” to work with in assisting patients.  And this is not to “dis” newer therapists – they are great!  But we all started out at the beginning and there needs to be rewards for hanging in there!

b)    Do you expect your massage therapists to do any other duties other than body work and SOAP charting?

c)    If so, do you pay them a fair hourly wage for the additional duties ($10 to $15/hour) for example: booking appointments, answering phones, pulling charts, washing sheets, folding sheets, housekeeping in the kitchen, taking out the trash, vacuuming, etc.

d)    Most Chiropractic offices expect Massage Therapists to be preferred providers for Insurances so that their patients can have their appointments billed.  Will the Chiropractor offer any assistance for Continuing Education and/or the cost of keeping their credentialing up in order to be the kind of employee that they require?

e)    How do they feel about time off for emergencies or a family vacation, trades, etc.  How much notice do they require for important days off – and will someone else be able to cover you if you get sick? Will they be supportive of what you need to be happy and able to function at home as well as at work?

f)    Do they have staff meetings where there is a common ground for questions and/or problems to be discussed and cleared regarding procedures, policies and personnel?  It is important that you have a forum and a voice to feel good about working with any group of people.

g)    Are you allowed to talk to the patients about stretches, pain reducing methods like dead sea salt baths, or their comments about your employer – knowing that you are loyal to your employer and would support them in the conversation? The freedom to be yourself is important!

h)    Before you sign a non-compete agreement, make sure you READ it, and change ANYTHING in there you do not agree with!  A contract is a binding agreement and you can really get into trouble with this.  If it sounds unreasonable – it probably is, and will NOT be worth it if they do not want to negotiate with you.  Just let it go and move on.

i)    Is there a specific uniform that will be required and who pays for it?

j)    Will I get to have Chiropractic benefits included as part of my employment? Is my family included?  Are there any other benefits available to me?  To my family?

k)    What is their view on body work?  Do they supply it to their patients because they want you to do as many massages as possible to earn them as much money as possible?  Or do they believe it is a wonderful adjunct to their treatment and they have real respect for the art and application of body work?

l)    If you have something in the healthcare industry that you would like to offer to their clients – clear it with them, and make the proper arrangements prior to seeing their patients “on the side” for it.  An example might be creating flower remedies for the patients’ symptoms in support of their condition. Will the Chiropractor get a cut, or are you allowed to suggest these things at all, etc.?

m)    Finally, do they seem kind to everyone, and are they respectful to everyone?  I once met a potential employer at lunch to discuss terms for working with them, and he actually yelled at the waitress and belittled her so loudly that the entire restaurant heard him!  Obviously, I declined to work with the man.  If he was so callous and disrespectful to this poor waitress whom he just met, imagine what he would do to me as an employee?  Check THEIR references for the kind of employer they are by talking with other therapists in their employ or staff/clients who know them and their work!  You have the right to know who you are working for!  Your reputation will now become connected to theirs and vice versa. 

Is there a question that you like to ask when interviewing for a job? Share it in the comments!

I’d like to say that I’ve met some wonderful Chiropractors and worked for some of them – and miss them because they were so awesome.  But I’ve also seen some behavior that was not good by others.  Be discerning in your search; don’t sell yourself cheap.  Know who you are, and know that you may have some work to do in order to be more marketable!

The only way Chiropractors are going to treat body workers as the professionals that they are is when WE as body workers demand that they do!  We work hard, we are well trained and deserve to be compensated adequately and be treated with respect!

The other side holds true also.  If you find a wonderful Chiropractor to work with, be loyal, be honest, be clean, on time and helpful!  Treat them the way you would like to be treated!  Go the extra mile – show them what a real professional can do!  Imagine for a moment that it is “your” business – how would you like to be represented by a Massage Therapist?  Be the IDEAL and you will not only be serving your employer well, but you will be an ambassador to their industry!

In my dialogue with Chiropractors on Find Touch, I’ve only encountered a couple of “bad apples”.  Most folks are great, and we need to learn how to work together – and that takes effort from both sides.

July 6, 2010

Massage and Migraine Headaches

I just published an article on effects of massage on migraine patients on the Bellevue Massage Therapy blog.
I interviewed Stephen D. Silberstein of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is a past President of the American Headache Society.

July 2, 2010

Beyond Basic Self Care

A guest article by Carol Wiley, LMP

As a massage practitioner, you spend your days ministering to the needs of other people. Does anyone really need to tell you to eat healthy food, exercise, practice stress management, and get enough sleep as part of your self care? Let's go beyond those survival basics to look at ways to live a life of joy and purpose.

Does doing massage give you a sense of joy and purpose? If not, why are you doing massage? The greatest waste on earth is the waste of a life spent on unfulfilling work and activities.

However, it's important to remember that joy and purpose are not destinations; they are the quality of the life journey. Journeys sometimes have detours through swamps and minefields that lead to marvelous places you could not otherwise have reached. For example, in one of his books, Michael J. Fox writes about how Parkinson's Disease has been a great gift.

So, here are some self care tips that I believe are most important in creating a life of joy and purpose:

  • Know what is most important to you. Set priorities and make decisions based on your priorities. Make sure that your priorities and decisions are really yours, and that you are not doing things because someone else (mom, hubby, etc.) thinks you should. Priorities will change as your life changes, so reevaluate as needed.

  • Learn to say no. Part of setting priorities is saying no to requests that do not fit your priorities. You do not have to explain or apologize. If you want to, you can just say that you have other priorities at the moment. If someone comes back with a snide, "You need to get your priorities straight," ignore the person.

  • Surround yourself with supportive, like-minded people. People who do not respect your priorities are not supportive. As much as possible, stay away from people who are negative and try to drag you down or to keep you where you are, when you know you want to be someplace different.

If your life in this moment is not as you want it to be, accept where you are and do what you have to do. But DO NOT focus on the things you don't want. Rather focus on what you do want and tell your life story of how you want things to be. A few simple tips to get started:

  • Keep a notebook where you write about the parts of your life that you do like and how grateful you are for them.

  • Write a vision of how you want your life to be as if it's already true. If that vision includes a massage practice, write down everything that would be part of your dream massage practice.

  • When you find yourself focusing on the unwanted, ask yourself, "What do I want?" Tell yourself how much you look forward to having all the things you want.

To help you with this process, I suggest reading supportive books.You'll find the ones that resonate most with you, but two authors I suggest to get started are Wayne Dyer (particularly Excuses Begone) and Esther and Jerry Hicks (any of the Teachings of Abraham books). The Internet also has a wealth of material; just search on topics that interest you.

About the Author

Carol Wiley, LMP, has been a licensed massage practitioner since 1997 and had an active massage practice for almost 12 years. Visit Carol's Massage Therapy Information site for lots of information about massage and wellness or get information about the writing services that Carol offers.