Meeting & Interview tips
These are some tips I pass on that I find help me when I have any meeting or attend a meeting with anyone I am supporting.
This might strike the reader as being somewhat cynical. Taking a pen & paper with you, to write notes, is the best tool for meetings. If you adopt only one or two of the points below. You may find you become less frustrated and see significant and more effectiveness.
- Preparation is key. If you have issues you would want to raise. Write them down on a piece of paper and prioritize them in order of importance to you. Not only will this remind you. Others participants in the meeting may raise one of your issues and you can check it off your list. Leaving issues you want to raise. Handy if you are attending medical appointments also as it reminds you of what you need to ask you Doctor.
- I record lengthy meetings so I can review them afterwards if only to support my memory. If the meeting is private, you should always ask all other participants if they object to being recorded.
- Pen & Paper is the best tool allowing for you to take notes.
- A diary is a good investment for keeping track.
- You have the right, subject to few exemptions. Under the Data Protection Act< to see all and any information held about or concerning you that an organisation has. This includes copies of written correspondence, any information held electronically i.e. emails, recorded phone conversations etc. You also have the right to know to whom and how this information is used. Most organisations make a charge for this and have to advise you "up front" how much. I advise you make this request in writing.
- After the meeting is over talk with your fellow participants to refresh any issues raised.
- Summarise at the end of the meeting. Come away with agreed action points, if appropriate, with deadlines. Enter these deadlines to your diary to prompt you to follow up on failed action delivery.
Dealing with the State (Benefits)
- ALWAYS get them name of there person you are dealing with. Especially when you are dealing with anyone over the phone. Ask to see the name badge. It should be visible to you anyway.
- You are entitled to have someone chaperone you to any meeting and act on your behalf. This doesn't need to be established in writing before hand a verbal consent from you is enough. If anyone representing the state including state appointed medical practitioners objects. They may want to re-arrange the meeting so they can have another colleague also present.
- I have heard, Benefits & Work website<, that some doctors who were undertaking medical exams for claimants. Where the claimant was chaperoned. We being told the medical could not continue as the Doctor had a legal right to only deal with the claimant on a "1 on 1" basis. Doctors are worried about a witness to the medical examination. Though this occurs in a very few cases and is not the norm so don't worry. Know your rights. You are , if you require, have the legal right to be accompanied to any appointment medical or otherwise. If any agent of the state tells you otherwise challenge them, they are wrong.
- I recently attended an Incapacity Benefit Medical with a friend as their chaperone. The Doctor was perfectly happy for my friend to have me present.
- Keep copies of all correspondence. If you or your chaperone takes notes. File them along with this.
Conducting you business over the phone
Personally I hate dealing with key issues especially concerning financial matters over the phone. However in this day and age organisations prefer this. The cynic in me is bored with the "deniability" organisations use. When you call back to chase up on agreements you thought you had made. They hate you writing in. This means they have to commit to paper that which has been agreed. As it is written it is more legally binding if a dispute arises. One of the Apple Macs we have runs a phone system recording all phone calls in and out of our telephone number. If you record telephone calls you have to disclose the fact to the person you are speaking to. Whereas most organisations claim to also record calls. A most will not mind you also recording. The individual you are speaking with has rights under 'The Human Rights Act" and can object. If this happens just call back and find someone who, personally, gives consent. Or raise the issue in writing with the organisation in question.
- Before you call get yourself settled (Coffee/Tea/Fags etc.), with a pen & paper.
- Be polite and take your time. If you have a dispute remember it is with the organisation and should never become personal with the person you are calling.
- Don't allow the other party to "wind you up". If you are getting frustrated. End the call & call back (when calm) or go to written correspondence.
- If you are abusive this will cause more problems than it solves.
- Write a list of items you want to cover before you call.
- When you call ask for the name of the person you are speaking to.
- If you are recording the call tell the other party.
- Note the date & time of the call.
- Start working through your checklist. Don't move on to your next issue until you are happy the previous one has been dealt with.
- Before you finish the call. Revise what has been agreed & when it will be delivered.
- Thank the other party for their time.
- You would be surprised how little people are thanked. It carries a lot of weight when dealing with someone.
I hope this helps. Just to reiterate, a pen & paper will save you a lot of frustration & time.
If you have any tips to add that you have found useful please email me< and I will add them.