Lets be Professional

The opinions here are strictly from the observational view of the writer. No real research went into this piece, only the research of observation on the patterns of humans dealing with each other.

Webster describes a professionalism as: 1. professional character, spirit, or methods. 2. the standing, practice, or methods of a professional, as distinguished from an amateur.

One would also believe that a person in such a high position would conduct his or herself in a manner to maintain that persona, at the very least in the eye of the public. However, many notable, high ranking members of society behave in the exact opposite of what one would considered to be professional.

Take CEO’s for example; although their job can be stressful, working long hours and living in a hectic lifestyle, some find themselves in a very unfavorable light. From things like using company money to pay for vacations, downsizing their workforce to increase profits and giving themselves a “golden parachute” to fall back on if it should all fail.

Politicians can be just as guilty of slandering the meaning of professionalism. Any person could turn on the evening news and most likely hear of some kind of scandal from some political figure.

So, why are so many people getting caught in the snare of unprofessionalism? Could it be that in this day and age that there aren’t too many secrets with the amount of technology and communications available? If so, the person who initially “let the cat out of the bag” had to tell someone, write something online or any other means of bringing that information to the public’s eye.

Regardless if the public knows or not. The fact is that type of conduct is most often only beneficial to one person. The person who is involved in the affair or “cooking the books.” Because of their shortsightedness, thousands of workers suffer. Take for example the famous Enron scandal. Due to higher ups in the company and a lot of bad decision making, employees lost their pension, 401k and so forth. The wants of the few outweighed the needs of the many.

With all that said, it seems that the term professionalism is just a cover up. A fictitious word used to describe one who has climbed higher on the corporate or political ladder. It is human nature to look out for one’s self; but, at some point one should examine the line they cross before heading down a slippery slope.

Customer Service

After spending twelve years working with the public, I know a thing or two about customer service. The old saying goes, “the customer is always right.” Well, that is not always true. I am going to use my experience in working in the pharmacy as an example of poor customer attitude.

Most of the public has no idea how their insurance works. The insurance dictates the price to charge the patient for his or her medication. Not the pharmacy, unless they are paying without having insurance. I had one, for lack of a better term, gentleman, scream and use profanity at me because he had a very high copay. Nearly a thousand dollars if I remember correctly. He swore up and down that I was messing up the price of his prescription. I went so far as to run his prescription under the cash price and then again under his insurance. I did this to demonstrate that the insurance was picking up a little piece of the cost. He did not believe me. I advised him to contact his insurance and see if he had a deductible to meet. He finally stormed out of the store, without his medication. Several hours later he came back and apologized indirectly at me. Meaning he asked another employee to pass the apology along. He stated that I was right, he had a deductible to meet, which he found out after contacting his insurance company.

People will also complain about the wait time, which we usually told them it would take roughly twenty to thirty minutes to fill their prescription. A lot of them scoff at that time line and make remarks such as, “can’t you just put a label on it?” In short, no we can’t. There are people who are in front of you that we have to work on. We have to enter the data in the computer, electronically contact the insurance with the information and get a copay back or if the customer is unlucky, the medication may require a prior authorization. Meaning that the insurance wants the doctor to contact them and explain why he or she prescribed that particular medication versus something comparable that the insurance company is willing to pay for. In this case the doctor will either make the effort to get the medication authorized, which can take up to three or four days, or the doctor will change the medication to something else. These kind of things take time. The medication also has to be counted or poured out into the proper container and then checked by the pharmacist to insure it is the correct medication and that it will not interact with any other medications the person is on. So, the long and the short of it is, we can not simply place a label on it.

The list goes on as to what customers will complain about. And unfortunately some companies in a way, encourage such belligerent behavior by giving the complaining customer monetary compensation. Such as twenty five dollars in store credit. Kind and patient customers are not rewarded for being good patrons and allowing the employees to do their job in a safe and timely manner. One does not want the pharmacist to mess up or miss something vital in filling the medication that could cause adverse reactions to the patient. Being rushed and bullied could cause such mistakes to occur. Then a lawsuit would be on the establishment’s hands.

It is my opinion that well behaved and loyal customers should be the ones to be rewarded. Not these customers who switch pharmacies just for some promotional discount, for instance twenty dollars store credit for having a prescription transferred from one pharmacy to another. These kind of people are just abusing the system and do not necessarily intend to become regular patrons.

If everyone worked with the public for one month, I believe, hopefully, that there would be more respect between employee and customer interactions. Treat others as you would want to be treated.

No Man is an Island?

What is a friend? If one were to Google this exact term, the definition given would be as follows: “A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.” In other words a friend, a true friend mind you, is someone a person can confide in. As well, trust is a major factor. A friend is not an acquaintance. Many people use the term “friend” very frivolously.

In this age of social networking, many people seem to collect people to add to their friends list. But, just how many of these people are actually friends? Or for that matter, provide some benefit to enhance our lives down the road? Most likely, not many. In fact most people can only handle between 100 and 230 relationships, with around 150 being the most common. This is known as Dunbar’s Number. This is an excerpt of the article:

“Dunbar’s number states the number of people one knows and keeps social contact with, and it does not include the number of people known personally with a ceased social relationship, nor people just generally known with a lack of persistent social relationship, a number which might be much higher and likely depends on long-term memory size.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number

Despite all those ornamental friends on our social networking Christmas tree, people are feeling more isolated and lonely. A study by the University of Chicago demonstrates this.

“…while Internet social networks may make us feel that we know hundreds of people, research is showing that we feel more isolated than ever before. A 2006 study published in American Sociological Review found that people in the U.S. had fewer friends than they’d had 20 years prior. In 1985, the average American claimed to have three close confidants (which could have included spouses or family members, in addition to friends), but by 2004, the average American had only two close confidants. One in four people reported having no one to talk to at all.”

http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/friends-average-person-have

It is quite interesting that in this age, with virtually a limitless availability of communication methods, that people feel so isolated. Perhaps society took for granted going to visit friends out of the blue. Or actually calling someone to catch up on the latest events in each others lives; rather than reading the news feeds.

Get Out of Jail Free Card: We’re Too Big to Fail

When Thomas Edison was working on his lightbulb, despite countless failures, when asked about it, he simply replied: “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” (Encyclopedia Britannica)

If only corporations, of the large persuasion, would look back and learn from their mistakes in the past and the mistakes that others in their field; perhaps, corporate bailouts would not be necessary.

On one side of the fence some believe that a bailout is a good thing, because it keeps people employed. The other side may feel that, if the “big wig’s” had of done their job correctly, a bailout would not be needed at all.

The two major bailouts that come to mind are that of the airline industry and the automotive industry. With that in mind, what would have happened if neither received any help from the government (meaning tax money)?

Would people lose their jobs? Most likely yes. Although it would force the people in charge to come up with a way to run their business more successfully. The government shouldn’t have to step in like a kind father and bail their rambunctious child out of jail when they make a mistake.

Perhaps if the airline industry did fail and a bailout was not an option, the industry would have invested a lot more interest in creating a means to make the business profitable without cutting corners. It may be the case that people couldn’t fly for a little while, but, the airline industry would be up all hours of the day trying to find out how to get those plains in the air and start making money again as soon as possible.

In a situation like this, a message would be sent to all business who think they are too big to fall, to take a step back and reinvent itself for the better of its customers and shareholders.

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Note: all of the above is based on opinion, not on factual data.

Health, Business and the Way of Life

This is strictly a non-scientific, purely observational opinion on the link to obesity, depression, and overall health as related to work and the way of life in modern Western Civilization. Namely, in America. The main focus of this article is on obesity and mental health. Despite many other factors that would affect the population during certain periods of time; this is a very narrow scope of merely a few ailments that contribute to the well being of the American population.

Time has become a luxury. The western world has become a non-stop, fast paced, extremely competitive environment. No doubt, most readers know that America evolved from an agricultural, to industrial, then technological and now information age. During that evolution, people, despite advances in the medical field have developed a much less healthy lifestyle. Yes, thanks to modern medicine, people are living longer; but, has the quality of that lifespan deteriorated? In other words quality verses quantity. Some might say yes. Of course there is room for argument to the contrary.

In the agricultural era, people lived off the land. Local farmers sustained the existence of themselves and their families through the harvest. It was hard work. But, in that hard work individuals were getting a lot of exercise and the amount of obesity in the nation was negligible. As far as the overall happiness of people during this time, I can not speculate on that matter. I would venture to guess that families were closer to each other and that people generally had a greater trust for others. Beyond that, I can not attest.

Once the industrial era began, the competitive nature of business began to take a stronger hold. Job opportunities became more abundant for individuals and the general population began to have an increased amount of disposable income. Although working conditions and the standards of safety in the working environment left much to be desired, especially in factory settings; people could now afford to some extent to indulge in more recreational activities. Family seemed to still play an important role in the quality of life and one’s happiness. As well, people still had a sense of trust for each other. I once did a search online to see at what time period people were most satisfied with life and from what I read, the 1950’s ranked among the highest. The health aspect during this period, concerning obesity, was still at a minimal. Portion sizes were smaller, individuals were still getting more exercise on the job and the need for things to be rushed to be completed was not as great as it is today.

As time progressed and technology advanced, the world went from a local economy to a global economy. Competition among business became an international concern. People became to be in much more of a hurry. Time once used to enjoy one’s self, became less of a commodity and more of a luxury. The type of jobs needed became less physical and much more intellectual. For instance, a lot more desk jobs, sitting behind computers and working more hours to stay competitive became a must. People spent less time with their families and friends and more time at the office. In such cases, the need to be able to stop and have a healthy meal became less available, giving rise to an increased reliance on fast food restaurants. Portion sizes became much larger and the amount of exercise one got on the job tremendously decreased. At this time, obesity and the consequences that came with it, became much more of a threat to individuals. Diabetes, heart conditions and the like were on the rise. As for mental health, the strains at work were carried home. Work seemed to have transformed from something one did in order to provide and enjoy time with loved ones, to being the forefront of one’s existence.

Finally, in this day of information, things have not changed as much from that of the technological age. The main difference is that information has become more valuable than developing greater technology to stay competitive. Technology still continues to grow and advance; however, it is for the purpose of gaining information and processing that information. Obesity, has become one of the top medical concerns in America. Diabetes is much more prevalent, the general happiness of individuals seems to have declined and the quality of interpersonal relationships has also seemed to diminish. Trust among people is extremely low, and depression has become another great health concern. Despite the small amount of exceptions, people do not exercise or engage in much physical activity. The family unit has undergone a great transformation. Although I see it as a good thing that people are becoming more accepting to the non-traditional family, the desire of individuals to pursue and maintain a family of any sorts is in the minority. Divorce is prevalent, children become split into the custody of one parent then the other. And the opportunistic nature of individuals and the need to put the need of one’s self above that of others is common place.

In conclusion, as I mentioned in the very beginning, none of these statements are based on research. Rather, they are based on the observation of people in daily life, the news and conversations with others. It is merely a question really, that is the quality of life and the health of individuals become greater with the passing of time? Yes, people are living longer, and have more opportunities (perhaps) than in the past. Ultimately, will individuals in society make the choice to improve the world in a way that is more beneficial for everyone verses themselves? And, are the consequences of gaining fortune outweigh the demise of one’s overall health?