Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The Trust Deficit…..Or Musings on a Cycle
The Ones We Trust Or Not….
I got back to training again. Oh wait. That sounds too pompous, as if I am world class athlete training for the Olympics. The truth is I limped my way to the neighboring gym and started light cardio exercising again after a break of almost two months. The reason for this longish break being the injury to my ankle and knee due to my ill advised venture of trying to learn Silambam ((Read this post for more)). After a long period of rehabilitation of the twisted knee and sprained ankle over the Christmas and New year period, I at last worked up the courage to limp back into the gym and instead of straight off hitting the treadmill to run, I opted to sit back and relax on a spinning cycle trying not to strain my left leg much, as this was its first outing and I didn’t want to push it to the limit but just ease it back in almost like how you drive in a new car during the first service period. And of all the things I noticed on my return to the long and arduous route back to fitness (with my eternal enemy the weighing machine sitting there and grinning at me), the one thing which made me thoughtful was, even now when I had been pronounced healed, how much I was avoiding straining my left leg and favoring my right.
Which sent me off on a tangent to think. About how we rarely trust someone again once they either lose our trust or disappoint us. I am a big fan of the forgive and forget method of mental peace and I am always ready to get over mistakes and move on, provided the apology is genuine. If someone realizes the error of their ways and wants a second chance I almost always give that to them. But still, I couldn’t help wondering if we do go back to the total trust we used to have on them prior to their disappointing us. That’s exactly what I feel- disappointment -when someone does something which I feel has either betrayed me or let me down. I don’t get angry, I don’t get even, I just feel acutely disappointed that they could not measure up to the standards I held them onto. Case in point - Something which happened a couple of days ago at the hospital.
We have a system called informed consent where, before any procedure, the patient is informed of the pros and cons of the procedure and provided they agree and give their consent, they are required to sign a consent form indicating their agreement. Most of the risks and complications mentioned in the consent form are the on-in-a-million-chances and unnecessary, but they are required by law and the insurance companies for everyone’s peace of mind. The real risks of the surgery and its aftermaths are usually explained by the surgeons themselves. But the rest, the procedures to be followed right from the admission time to the discharge from the hospital are included in the informed consent form and that’s handled by the front office people, who are usually trained in giving a concise account of the forms contents and getting the patient to sign it. Which works out fine for everyone- the surgeon does his work- the actual surgery and the support staffs do their work- the paperwork and formalities. And all of this is routine and has occasioned no need for any interference or oversight on my part till I happened to notice suddenly one day that the front office staff was making a grave error. They were getting consent without informing.
Now that in my opinion defeats the very purpose of the exercise to get consent. The staff of the front office was shoving the disclaimer form at the patient and asking them to sign here and the patient was doing that without asking why or what. Of course I wouldn’t blame the patient for doing it blindly, after all they are already worried, anxious and don’t realize the gravity of what they are signing for. But it’s the duty of the front office staff to take the time to explain to the patient what it was they were signing so blindly and doing anything else was sheer laziness or petty arrogance. I walked up to the lady at the front desk, after the patient had departed, and explained to her that as per procedure she should have gone through the disclaimer form with the patient before asking them to sign. But the front office lady stoutly maintained that A) this was how they always did it B) no one else had complained till now C) so why was I raking this up? I had always found the lady in the front office somebody bright and pleasant to work with, so I was disappointed by her defending the error of her ways instead of apologizing and getting on with it. So I took the time to give her a mini lecture on what informed consent means and why it is necessary- in words of four syllables as if explaining to a child of five. And of late I have started checking with the patients whether they read through everything they sign. Which is a complete waste of my time if I could only trust the front office again like I used to do.
And that’s what I meant by the difficulty in regaining trust once lost. In everyday life, as in my hospital, there are times when even our most trusted persons badly let us down. And even if we are disappointed we are sometimes forced by circumstances to work with/along with them and we cannot avoid them by citing trust deficit between us. Especially if they either apologize or act as if they regret the backstabbing. But still we cannot go back to everything being honky-dory again immediately. Even if we forgive and forget and start treating them like old, it will still take time to regain our complete trust. They would have to prove themselves trustworthy again as the onus shifts on them to convince us of their reliability. Like my slowly easing my knee back into action and giving it its full workload.
Which brings me to my second observation of the day- where I almost unconsciously started favoring my right leg instead of my injured left leg and making my right leg do double the work of my other (weak)leg. When someone in a team fails to pull their weight, the work automatically falls onto the others on the team who are forced to compensate extra. And sometimes when a person is sincere and hardworking, more and more work is thrust on them just because they are trustworthy instead of on others who cannot be trusted to complete the job. I have done the same error myself inside the operation theater. When there two or three OT staff nurses present, we always demand that the one who is sincere attend us, as they can anticipate our needs and provide us the next instrument we want even before we ask for it, thus making it easier for us and saving time. This results in the sincere person being overburdened with work, while the lazy layabouts dodge work because of their reputations. No one wants them to assist and they are happy with it, lazing off. Which is quite unfair to the sincere types. For they will work and work ceaselessly without complaint till one day they will break down with the strain. Like my right leg will if I put all my weight on it while letting my left leg relax. So this is one lesson I have learnt today and which I will apply in the near future- not to overburden the sincere persons while letting the dodgers go scot-free, however much it eases my workload.
So those are the two nuggets of understanding I gained today while working out on a spin cycle in the gym. Tell me, do you forgive and forget easily? If so do you trust that person back immediately? And do you overburden the persons you trust always? And does anyone of the above lessons apply to you too?