Directly Speaking - You Tell Me

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President
November 1, 2013

How many of you have used the phrase “You tell me” in a conversation with another person? I’ve personally used it many times and often with different connotations. I had to poll the ICHP staff to make sure I could recount as many examples as possible for this article and thankfully they were very helpful! Probably because I used the phrase on each of them a time or two.

For example, when someone asks you a question, and you know they know the answer but are just unsure that they know, I often respond, “You tell me.” That way they can provide the answer they believe to be true, and I can reinforce their response, assuming it is correct.

Another example is when a colleague seeks your opinion on a controversial issue, and you suspect that your answer could potentially draw fire. I respond with, “You tell me,” in order to determine how strongly or softly I express my opinion. And while many who know me might think that if the opinions differ, my response would be made strongly, because I tend to tell it like I feel it is, I often respond the opposite way in order to keep the peace or to create time to fight at a later date.

The next example of when I use “You tell me” is when you know that the question comes from someone with a very strong opinion and is looking for a confrontation. The “You tell me” draws their position out immediately, and it allows me to formulate a response that will either diffuse the confrontation or escalate it, depending on my interest in quickly resolving the issue, my commitment to the issue, the need to maintain decorum in the current setting and my current level of energy at that time. Once the issue and the other person’s position is clearly identified, it may be much easier to provide a response that avoids a lose-lose situation.

But none of these examples is why I’m asking each of you, ICHP’s members, to respond to the “You tell me” phrase today. Instead, I want you to tell me your stories. Not just any stories or jokes (although clean jokes that I can share anywhere are always appreciated when emailed!), but I’m asking for stories of success in your pharmacy practice. Not just any stories of success but stories of success when your success also matches up with ICHP’s Mission – Advancing excellence in the practice of pharmacy. In other words, when your department has implemented a new service or process that advances excellence in the practice of pharmacy at your institution, I want to hear about it! If you’ve been successful for budget reasons or because you were ordered to implement something by an administrator or another department, that doesn't count. Those are successes, often required to keep your employment, but they aren’t the stories I would like to share. And I completely understand that those successes are often just as important or sometimes more important to you at the time. I live there, too!

I usually use my column to tell you what you should do: advocate for this, implement that, plan for this, etc. That’s easy for me, but it is sometimes not that interesting or motivating. Sharing your successes with all our other members can be reassuring or even inspiring. Showing others that they can make things happen by following someone else’s plan helps everyone (by not having to reinvent the wheel, hello, and that it can be done!). Plus, you all are out in the trenches, you’re fighting the fight every day for your patients and your institutions, so when you achieve victory it’s important and rewarding to share it with others!

Your stories will also be helpful to me. They will get me closer to the real practice of pharmacy and help me identify the most current issues confronting our members. This helps us plan educational programming, revise statutes and regulations and identify member needs that might be met by new products or services.

I’ve attended almost every Pharmacy Director Dinner that has been held in and around the state since we reestablished them a few years ago. I’m not sure whether or not I have actually even missed one, but that’s not the point. These dinners help me stay in touch with the practice from the pharmacy directors’ point of view. And the directors are very open in their discussions, but I know there’s more of you out there who can share. I know that when a new program or process is identified, developed, implemented, evaluated and improved, that all the staff in a department get involved. So I want to hear from all of you!

I want to hear your perspective. I want you to tell me how it worked, what didn’t work and how you fixed it, how it made you feel, and how it improved care for your patients. And if more than one of you want to share the same story, the different perspectives you provide will add to the learning.

So my new challenge to all of you is: “You Tell Me!”

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