Saturday, November 18, 2006

News you already know

Is it really such an annoying thing, to receive news that you already know? Granted, your thoughts may have been interrupted, your pager going off might have given you a mini-heart attack, and a few seconds of your time may just have been wasted without any appreciable gain, but somebody did just make an effort to tell you something they thought you might like to know. Even if the person was a complete moron, in all probability the disturbance was actually an attempt to make your life easier. Anyway, sometimes the point isn’t necessarily to inform you, but more to make sure that you are already informed. I’m not saying there’s no such thing as a stupid page or call, but I hate it when good faith is met with irritation. Why not just be courteous?

I find the way in which a person receives news that he already knows to be telling about his character. Is the person someone who always has to point it out when he already knows something? Does the person thank the informer but then later make a snide remark? Along the spectrum from graciousness to malignancy, where does the person fall?

Here are various responses that I have heard at one point or another as a medical student or resident.

1. (gracious) “Oh yes, I heard, it’s worsened, hasn’t it? I agree, he’s going to need a transfusion. . .thanks for calling.”

2. (pleasant) “Right, I just saw that. We’re thinking he’ll need a transfusion. . .”

3. (neutral) “Oh yeah, I actually commented about that in my note. We’re going to transfuse him.”

4. (annoyed) “I know that. I discussed in my note this morning. . .”

5. (uncalled for) “Yes, if you had read my note you would know that I already commented on that. . .”

6. (malignant) “Look, don’t waste my time. Go read my note from this morning and you’ll be able to see what I thought about that.”

Aren’t nice people just so much more pleasant to work with?