Client, Patient, Customer, At Iba Pa
Masseur, Massagist, Massage Therapist, At Iba Pa
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Client, customer, guest, patient, patron……ano ba talaga kuya? Alam niyo hindi ko lubos maisip kung ano talaga ang itatawag sa kanila. (You know, I really don’t know what to really call them) So, for me to sound politically correct we will dissect the words. Minsan nga nagiging topic pa ito ng mga diskusyon di ba? (Sometimes this has been a topic of discussions, hasn’t it?).
Let us differentiate a client, from a customer, to a guest, patient or patron. I am writing here with the focus of how the terms are used from the viewpoint of someone in the spa, massage therapy, bodyworks, beauty and wellness industry. Remember I am writing here not to be politically correct but to present each and every word within the context of how we view it in our industry and how it is perceived and used by others in different fields.
According to several online dictionaries that I have compared, a client is someone who uses and pays a professional or a specialist for goods or services. So if a person is not a professional this means the person seeking his/her goods or services is not technically a client? Ganun ba yun? (Is that it?) So let us say for example you are not really a professional spa or massage therapist, you don’t have the right to call your clients…clients? Normally, the word client is heard in a lawyer’s, solicitor’s, accountant’s, advertising agency’s office, etc.. But in the spa, massage, beauty and wellness industry we have also been using this term instead of the perennially hated word “customer”.
Let us go to the word customer. A customer on the other hand, is an informal word that refers to an individual buys/ pays for goods or services. Commonly this term is used in the retail industry. Because the word customer, has been tainted badly by people who promote sex other than purely professional massage therapy. People in the industry have been embarrassed to use this and instead used other terms which will not create stigma for the professionals. So kung wala namang bibilhin na product sa spa ang isang tao, dapat huwag siyang tawaging customer or if you cringe when you hear that word from fellow massage/ spa therapists then do not use “customer” at all.
Guest is a term used to refer to any individual or visitor who received hospitality from a home or a business entity. Generally, this is used in the hotel industry or any facility whose business is in accommodation, travel, holiday and tours industry. To be too technical about the term, in the spa, massage clinic or your wellness business, you can use the word guest if:
1. They are not regular visitors, meaning, to be technical about it, guest lang talaga sila. They do not come often.
2. You and your staff are really giving them the best service and value. What do I mean by this? How do we treat guests in our homes? I think the best example of treating guests is in the abode of Filipino homes. We treat them with utmost respect, honor, full-hospitality and accommodation. There are even times when the master’s bedroom is offered for the guests. We would tour them around even if that means being absent from the office or taking a half-day off. We would eat out with them from our own pocket and at our own expense not theirs, at marami pang iba. In short, they are treated as royalties and a distinguished part of the family.
3. To be again too technical about the term guest, guests are guests and they are not expected to pay. Naku! Hindi yata maganda ‘to…. if we are to be too technical about this term sa business natin…ang guest ay hindi natin ine-expect na mag-bayad. (Whew! This is not good because if we are too be too technical about this term, in our line of business, do you expect your guest at home to pay? Of course not, isn’t it? ) A guest is not expected to pay (?).
So meron na naman tayong sabit sa paggamit ng term na yan. So again, we will have another technical issue if we are to use that term.)
Let us go to the word patient or pasiyente in Tagalog. The word patient is generally used in the health and medical field naman because this is a person who requires medical care. So if you are in the premises of a medical setting, you are called a patient. Likewise, this term might be used also as an adjective meaning, someone who is fore bearing and one who embodies long-suffering or briefly, a patient is someone who endures. In Tagalog, mapagpasensiya. Which is correct in its context because when you are a patient, you are enduring some trying circumstances or situations. An ailment, disease or sickness. Before, the word patient is exclusively used by doctors, physicians but medical spas nowadays, use the word patient even if you do not have any illness, as long as you are in their premises and a receiver of their services they can call you a patient instead of client, guest, customer or patron. The word patient hooked two similar yet different denotations and connotations.
Last but not the least, the word, patron. The word patron means someone who is a regular individual who champions your business and some one who defends you. This person recommends you and your spa services. Patron is generally used by artists, in the restaurant, service industry or any institution where repeat business is high. The meaning of this in a technical concept, is wonderful because we really want people like these who are loyal and zealous of what we do and what we provide for them.
Before I end this brouhaha over these terminologies there is another set of terms that has been a controversy in the realm of spa, massage therapy and bodyworks. And these are the words: masseuse/masseur, massagist, massage therapist and bodyworkers.
Obviously a masseuse is a female and a masseur is a male, both of which professionally practices massage therapy as a source of income. Again, since these words have given some form of stigma for the professionals because of its other implied meaning regarding sex.
Massagist, is a neutral term, which may mean a female or a male, a term I have not found in the Webster’s dictionary but I have first encountered in Chapter XIII of PD 856 which is the Implementing Rules and Regulations for Massage Clinics and Sauna Bath Establishments of the Code of Sanitation of the Philippines, Section 2, Item Number 10 on the Definition of Terms, massagist refers to a trained person who has passed the masseurs examination and is a holder of a valid certificate of registration for masseur issued by the Department of Health. The word massage therapist has not been mentioned in the Implementing Rules and Regulations for Massage Clinics and Sauna Bath Establishments of the Code of Sanitation of the Philippines but has been mentioned in the Rules and Regulations of the Department of Tourism (DOT) governing the establishment of spa facilities. The DOT defines a massage therapist as someone who is a certified licensed massage therapist who has undergone extensive training either locally or internationally regarding anatomy, physiology and multitude of massage techniques.
Bodyworker may mean someone who is making or repairing vehicle bodies or someone who is engaged in the profession of bodywork. Bodywork is a broader concept than massage therapy because bodyworkers may include other forms of somatic bodyworks not only massage therapy and this includes: Yoga, Rolfing, Alexander technique, etc. Sometimes massage therapy and bodyworks are used interchangeably but to be technical about it, while bodywork includes all forms of massage techniques, it also includes many other types of touch and healing therapies that additionally incorporate vast assessment techniques and tools that may for example, allow a client to benefit their posture and/or aim to enhance their awareness of the ‘mind-body connection’. Any activity which involves touch, energetic stimulation or the application of pressure or vibration to tissues of the body, including muscles, connective tissue, joints, tendons and ligaments may be termed bodywork.
So in my personal opinion, whatever word we use, whether that be: client, customer, guest, patient, patron or masseur, masseuse, massagist, massage therapist, bodyworkers or whatever upcoming terminology that may arise, the basic principle is we use terms with value and dignity. Hindi na natin pag uusapan dito kung sino ang tama o mali. The issue here is about adding value to the industry. If you think, the term that you will use will add value to a person’s dignity or an industry’s dignity then by all means use it. But if, in the deepest recesses of your heart, you think that this term has become obsolete or needs some fresh new start then change it for your peace of mind.
We can argue on the uses of these words over and over or we can use any of these terms with malice or indignation or with love and respect. Remember, words are very powerful. God created the universe with words. Words became flesh. Words do become flesh.
Since I am not writing to be politically correct, as stated earlier, all definitions have been definitions found from different online and offline sources like dictionaries like Merriam Webster, thesaurus, Google, etc.
I will end this topic with a little twist to tickle our funny bones, but certainly not to degrade any language. Please bear with me.
After all these heated discussions and arguments which is right and which term is wrong, the English language is a crazy language and here are some of the reasons why: There is no egg in an eggplant, nor ham in hamburger. There is neither pine or apple in pineapple. French fries were not invented in France nor English muffins in England. Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads, which are not sweet at all, are meat. There are a lot of paradoxes in the English language and we will find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a Guinea pig is neither a pig nor an animal from New Guinea. And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing? Hammers don’t ham and grocers don’t groce? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why then isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese? Gets confusing….right?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? That you can comb through the annals of history but not a single annal? Or an anus? If a vegetarian ate vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Have running nose therefore they run? and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise guy and a wise man are opposites? How can overlook and oversea be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike? How can the weather be hot as hell in one day and cold as hell the other?
One has to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill a form by filling it out and in which an alarm clock goes off by going on.
As I quote Pastor Ed Lapiz, from the Special issue of Light Touch Magazine, vol. 8 number 3,Copyright 2004, Glad Tidings Publication “Filipinos are linguists. Put a Filipino in any city, any town around the world. Give him a few months or even weeks and he will speak the local language there. Filipinos are adept at learning and speaking languages. In fact, it is not uncommon for Filipinos to speak at least three: his dialect, Filipino, and English. Of course, a lot speak an added language, be it Chinese, Spanish or, if he works abroad, the language of his host country. In addition, Tagalog is not ‘sexist.’ While many “conscious” and “enlightened” people of today are just by now striving to be “politically correct” with their language and, in the process, bend to absurd depths in coining “gender sensitive” words, Tagalog has, since time immemorial, evolved gender-neutral words like asawa (husband or wife), anak (son or daughter), magulang (father or mother), kapatid (brother or sister), biyenan ( father-in-law or mother-in-law), manugang (son or daughter-in-law), bayani (hero or heroine), etc. Our languages and dialects are advanced and, indeed, sophisticated! It is no small wonder that Jose Rizal, the quintessential Filipino, spoke some twenty-two languages!”
English, Tagalog, Spanish, Norge, Nipponggo and all the other languages were invented by people and not by computers. Language is a blessing in the hands of responsible people. We can bless with words and we can curse with words. We can express our love with words or scar a person with words. Words can be used both as a positive influence and a negative one. Language embodies the creativity of the human race (which, of course, is not a race at all…ay sus!). That is why when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. Any why, when I say I would wind up my watch it means I would start it and when I say, I would wind up this talk, I would end it.
May we always have words that are encouraging, helpful, nurturing and loving to everyone around us.
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