During the early years in my business, I facilitated a contract training for an Employee Assistance Provider based in California. Usually I’d work in Colorado, but this time they sent me on a trip back east where I trained for Avon, an insurance company and the IRS, among a few others.
The IRS training was on Eldercare and it seemed to be a popular topic because the room was jammed with over 100 people in attendance. This issue hit home with numerous participants who were primary caregivers for a parent or other loved one. They were also juggling full time jobs, so they appreciated the tips and knowing they weren’t alone.
During one of our audience interaction segments (i.e. when the speaker asks you to turn to your neighbor and discuss X) people shared their own personal stories with one another. There were stories about healthcare situations, living conditions, home care helpers and stress. During that time, I moved around the room listening in and answering questions.
I hovered near one woman who was almost in tears. She told her co-workers all about the trauma of juggling so many responsibilities and watching her loved one go downhill so quickly.
“It’s just awful,” she said. “Every day I have to make sure she gets her food and her medicine. She’s gotten to the point where she can’t chew. Sometimes she wants to go out for a walk and other times she refuses. She has a skin condition and can’t stand the itching so there’s dry skin all over the place. To top it all off, her hair is falling out. I can’t handle this much longer. I just don’t know what I’m going to do.”
A man who was listening in from behind her leaned over and said, “Oh for gosh sakes, just have her put down!” The co-workers sitting nearby all nodded sympathetically.
I was aghast. I’d heard stories about the IRS, but this was beyond the pale. Why in the world would he say such a thing about this poor woman’s mother?
They must have noticed my mouth hanging wide open in horror.
“Her dog. She’s talking about her dog,” the man who advised her explained.
Relieved, I said, “I’d heard you folks were tough, but this was more than I expected!”
We all had a good laugh over it. So much for coming in on the tail end of a conversation.
And thus to my main point. Don’t believe everything you hear.
Today I heard yet another “news” story based on the world famous “Anonymous Sources.” These people seem to be everywhere and I am astonished at how often they are quoted. They must be very popular indeed AND hugely credible to be taken at their word without even showing their faces OR releasing their names. My gosh, people usually pay PR firms big bucks to be quoted that often and most don’t even mind giving up their true identities. But how much better is it to be quoted without being held accountable for what you are saying. Some would say, that’s the best of both worlds! Others would say it’s gossip.
Don’t you wish you had that kind of clout?
Now, those folks at the IRS spoke up and made it real clear real fast exactly who and what they were talking about because they wanted no misunderstanding. They didn’t want me leaving their office with a mistaken impression. Their reputations would be damaged. That would be horrible. (The IRS doesn’t need that kind of press.) And even worse, I’d be running around sharing a story that wasn’t even true. Imagine how embarrassing that would have been — for all of us!