Advising without personalising: How a helpline may satisfy callers without giving medical advice beyond its remit
journal contributionposted on 2020-03-06, 15:32 authored by Charles Antaki, Steven Bloch
Callers to telephone helplines often seek advice beyond the authorisation of those staffing the service. On health-helplines, this poses a problem to the call-taker. How do they manage the dilemma between, on the one hand, exceeding their competence and authority to give medical advice, and, on the other, leaving the caller unsatisfied with the service? We offer a framework in which to set newly identified practices along with those identified in previous studies. Using a set of calls to a medical help-line run by Parkinson's UK, we show that the call-taker manages the problem by (a) only suggesting courses of action highly marked for impersonality or contingency (displaying a "low deontic stance", Stevanovic and Peräkylä, 2012), and (b) limiting the interactional risks of tailoring the advice to callers' personal circumstances. We show how our suggested framework of "advising without personalising" may guide research into the difficult job of delivering advice where the service-provider must observe a limit on what they can say.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Communication and Media