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“How Do You Professionally Tell a Coworker They’re an Idiot?”

If you’ve ever Googled that question, keep reading.




IF YOU’VE GOOGLED, “How do you professionally tell a coworker they’re an idiot?” Keep reading.

Many can recall the moments I am referring to here. You are working your tail off at your desk and overhear a team member say the most ridiculous thing to a patient. Whether the patient gets upset, leaves, or doesn’t purchase eyewear, the opportunity with that patient is now gone because of this interaction.

This leaves you holding your tongue and typing the above question into Google wondering how in the world they could possibly think that was a smart thing to say!?!

You don’t have to be in the optical world long to have witnessed someone in the office saying something dumb to a patient. Why does this happen? Is it really that some coworkers are boneheads? Well maybe, but it’s more likely that many team members in an optical office are not given the right guidance to know what to say that will avoid making them (or you!) look like a fool.


Understand this: every position in your office can kill your opportunity to make a sale to a patient. Therefore, it is vital that every team member be equipped with a response to save the sale when a patient has an issue. (A patient choosing not to buy from you is an issue.)

This goes far beyond the idea of cross-training. Reflect on the training habits in your optical. You likely have a way of teaching your team members how to check in a patient, how to enter demographics, how to run testing equipment, how to bill insurance, and how to run a visual field. But how many of us are teaching every team member a great way to explain a progressive, the ideal questions to ask when triaging a complaint, or how to respond when a patient states they are leaving to buy online?

The reason most avoid training on these scenarios is because they are all a form of conflict. Conflict is often seen as a negative, but conflict is actually a way to initiate communication and understanding. Conflict can be large, like handling a patient wanting a refund, to small, like how to respond when a patient wants to take their Rx elsewhere. Teaching people how to trigger helpful communication during these common optical conflicts has proven to be very empowering for optical teams.

Resolving conflict is easier for some than others. Typically, leadership does not provide focused training on these topics because they consider them too subjective and the result is often asking that the team refer these conflicts to the one team member who is gifted at handling them. If you find your team frequently saying, “Let me grab the manager for you.” Then it is a team that has not been equipped to deal with conflict. However, when a team is fully prepared not only how to respond to conflict, but how to control the conversation, they can leave the sales opportunity open with that patient. This is what we teach our members and the confidence that it builds in optical teams is astounding! Follow the QR Code for a video where I further explain the possibilities that are created when you equip every one of your team members with the right things to say.


Imagine the time you’d regain if you stopped having to Google ways to professionally suggest that a teammate remove their foot from their mouth and avoid giving silly responses. Not only does it make for a better work environment, but the patient interaction is unequivocally better ultimately increasing sales.

It’s time to give your team the tools to improve how they manage conflict.

Kayla Ashlee is the co-founder of Spexy, an international optometric speaker, a certified optician, and an optometric renegade. Her direct and relatable approach to training has set her apart in the industry. To learn more visit


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