My 13 year old daughter Erin is unfortunately dealing with some medical issues. We’re confident she’ll overcome them in the near future but it’s been a long road, one that she’s tiring of walking down. As her concerned parents, we’re doing all we can to keep her spirits up and to get as much information and support as we can so she can hopefully put it all behind her. This recently included meeting with a nutritionist.
We decided to take Erin along so she could personally share her concerns and struggles and then hear first hand about options. We thought it was a good idea at the time.
After introductions and a brief review of Erin’s condition, Lisa the nutritionist wrote down Erin’s weight. She then brought out her calculator and that’s when Erin, my husband and I fell into the rabbit hole of kilograms divided by something and then multiplied by that to get those. She handed us a page of numbers, which is what she recommended we follow in order to get Erin the exact amount of fiber, fat, protein, and sugar in her diet. Divided by six.
After 30 minutes of this, I recapped with “So what you’re saying is less fiber and fat, right?”
My husband and I walked out frustrated and Erin left in tears.
This real life situation happens far too often. Lisa was pleasant but presented her knowledge and recommendations in such a convoluted manner that she left us, people with little to no medical background, dazed and confused. If she had simply said, “Read the labels and make sure what Erin eats is low in fat and fiber and, Erin, smoothies are your friend,” we would have left in a much better state.
What this reflects is that simple is hard. Lisa had years of experience but she couldn’t communicate it in a way that made it easy for two concerned parents and a 13-year-old to understand. But this doesn’t only happen in the medical profession; many industries are notorious for overcomplicating communications and processes, including our own.
That’s why at National Life, we’ve decided that, while simple can be hard, we need to make things simple anyway. A major part of our culture is transparency. Honest, straightforward communication in a reasonable time. We’ve been chipping away at legacy systems, reevaluating processes, and considering language that includes the words “we’ve always done it this way” offensive.
Are these changes always simple? No. Are they worth it? Yes. If our clients understand exactly what they bought, why they bought it and why it matters, then we’ve done good. Setting out to confuse and frustrate people isn’t our goal and I don’t believe it was Lisa’s either. But it benefits everyone to rethink how we communicate so that our audience easily understands what we’re communicating.
It’s that simple.