Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Over the holidays a survey was released about how we interact with our doctors.

English: A female doctor examines a child.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll tell you what it said with a grain of salt since the folks underwriting the survey are from a medical information web service.  They’re a kind of online chat service except the person on the other end is a medical professional.  Why is something like that needed?  Well, according to the survey:

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents have avoided going to a doctor in favor of searching online for medical information on at least one occasion. Americans are bringing their medical questions online for a variety of reasons, with insurance-related concerns, embarrassment, and the fear of discovering a pre-existing condition high on the list.

Not surprisingly, many people don’t go because they lack health insurance or because even with insurance it’s an expensive visit. But a very large number don’t want to ask their questions of a medical professional because those questions are about uncomfortable topics – sex, drug use, etc.  They also admitted lying to the doctor about alcohol use, poor diet, or lack of exercise.  Obviously not asking about something or giving bad information because it makes you uncomfortable can have serious ramifications later on.  Which is exactly the business point.

How many managers ignore symptoms in their own organizations because what they see makes them uncomfortable?  How many of us feel that something is not quite right but don’t take the opportunity of a staff meeting to discuss the symptoms?  Some of the thinking is probably akin to that of people and their physicians:  we are afraid to find out the truth or the discussion itself just makes us uncomfortable.  Most of the time when we do summon the courage to ask the doc about what’s going on it’s nothing.  I suspect the same is true about business – we don’t have complete information about what we’re seeing and a bit more knowledge can ease our fears.  However, sometimes something really is wrong, and just as in a medical situation, catching it early is a lot better than waiting until it’s too late and not much can be done.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” isn’t a way to handle your health or your business.  An open, honest relationship with your doctor and your business team keeps everyone healthy.  You agree?

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