I came across an online post recently, in which someone had posted a photograph of a nasty looking insect bite, and asked, “Help – what do you think this is??”

This question was posted in an open Facebook group designed for people living in a particular city. A group to ask “general questions”. It wasn’t a group for medical professionals, nor was it full of experts of unusual insect bites. It was just a group of people that have, at some point or another, passed through this particular place in the world.

So essentially, a question put to a group of strangers – none of whom had any known expertise on this topic.

Yet there were many, many, many replies….

“Oh that’s definitely a tic bite!”

“It’s just a mozzie bite, don’t worry about it.”

“That looks like a spider bite. I know someone who nearly died from something similar, get to a hospital QUICKLY!”

Unsurprisingly, amongst the many, many replies, were many, many different opinions. No doubt all sent with good intentions, and no doubt all believing their advice was correct. But ultimately, in reality, of no help whatsoever to the original poster.

No surprises there really. The internet isn’t exactly known for being a fail-safe source of accurate information … particularly when it comes to diagnosing health related issues.

It’s something that has always struck me though – people’s inclination to offer advice, to offer help … when they don’t actually have all the facts. Or perhaps, even the knowledge at all.

This is something that the internet has made considerably more commonplace. We all know that, though. And of course, if one will ask the internet for advice, they must also be prepared to take the replies with a pinch of salt.

Imagine though, if “experts” reacted in the same way …

Imagine if that original poster went to the doctors for a professional opinion on that bite.

And imagine if that doctor said “Yes, I know what that is, and how to treat it” … BEFORE they had even seen the bite or heard the symptoms.

That original poster … or you, if you were in their place … would be pretty horrified I’m sure!

How can a doctor diagnose BEFORE they know the details of the problem?

How can they know what caused the bite, or why it’s reacted the way it has. How can they be so confident of knowing the exact cause of THIS problem, if they don’t have all the information about it?

Simple …

They can’t.

It would in fact be professional negligence … gross misconduct … something along those lines. Something serious, in any case. That would not be a doctor any of us would want to continue practising, I dare say.

But in the medical profession that’s easy to see.

In other professions, it’s less obvious. And it’s also a far easier thing to DO without even realising it …

Have you ever agreed to a job before really knowing exactly, specifically, what is required?

Have you ever said “Yes! Of course I can help with that”, BEFORE you actually know that client’s specific problem, or need, or ideals?

I’m going to take a punt and say that you probably have … as I know I certainly have, and I know most of my clients have too. Especially, most probably, in the early days of self-employment …

And the outcome of those situations?

We spent hours trying to work out how to price the job … or working out where on earth to start …

Or doubting our work, revising and redoing and chopping and changing, before we sent “it” over to the client.

We spent much longer on those jobs than we should have.

Because, ultimately, we weren’t very sure of what we were doing.

In these situations, we normally figure it out eventually, and we normally CAN do it. But we’ve probably wasted a lot more time than was necessary getting to that stage. So these jobs probably weren’t very lucrative … or they caused us more stress than they needed to … or, at worst … maybe they negatively affected our reputation with that client.

And all of that probably stemmed from us just trying to be helpful, trying to please, trying to “prescribe” … to saying “yes” … BEFORE we really knew what the problem was. Before we really knew what we were saying “yes” to.

But maybe, to avoid this problem, it’s as simple as just needing to be CLEAR on the issue at hand before we agree to anything.

Maybe we just need to ensure WE have all the facts, so that we can be sure we’ll be giving our clients the best possible service.

The exact service, and solution, that they NEED.

And maybe, by being clear on the problem, or the wishes, of our client … of DIAGNOSING before we PRESCRIBE … maybe we’ll also help the client to see the VALUE to them, of our solution to their problem?

Maybe we’ll not only be making things easier for ourselves, but we’ll be making it easier for our client to see our value?

Which, let’s face it, sounds pretty good … right?

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