Monday, April 05, 2021

"By the Way" Remarks


Clients tell me that working from home has all but eliminated those valuable "by the way" remarks which, although often casually made in a hallway, may alert people to small but important bits of information. 

I've written before about how board members meeting via Zoom don't get the important side-bar remarks they'd normally get from the people seated next to them in an in-person board meeting. [When the seating arrangements are chosen by the participants, do people really think those choices are entirely made at random?]

I know of medical offices that have been postponing annual physical examinations. They declare, of course, that patients with a particular concern can come on in. 

Are they serious?

The assumption that patients will do so makes me wonder about the quality of communications training in medical schools. Don't they realize that a primary benefit of annual physical examinations is the chance to make "by the way" queries about conditions that are troubling but not troubling enough for a visit based solely upon that problem?

When a doctor removes the opportunity for "by the way" exchanges, dangerous symptoms may go unmentioned and that, fellow patients, is not healthy.

Savvy chief executives have long known that it is wise to watch for "by the way" remarks that people make at the conclusion of a one-on-one meeting and especially while the departing colleague is standing in the doorway. 

Everything said prior to that moment may well have been pretense. The real reason for the meeting could have been the chance to make such remarks.

"By the way" is not really "by the way."

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