Thursday, May 30, 2013

When YOU Know Best

When I was volunteering for a job readiness program, one of the things I really enjoyed was reviewing resumes. However, I could always tell who had relied blindly on the spelling and grammar checkers. I could tell because I would come across sentences that made absolutely no sense. The job seeker often knew the sentence wasn't correct, their defense was that they just went with the grammar checker.

The assumption was that the grammar checker knew better than they did. Who were they to question something that the computer said. The computer is always right, right? Well, no. The spell check is good if you are close to the word you are trying to spell. However, with a language as complicated as English, the grammar checker is only correct a fraction of the time.

It is interesting that people will often abdicate their common sense, smarts and instincts because something or someone has more credibility. We lose the ability to question. We assume that we don't know enough and rely on the advice of the 'expert', whether it is a software program or a professional.

I remember when I purchased my house. I had a sizable amount in savings. However, I knew that the money was already earmarked for a specific purpose. The mortgage lender pre-approved me for a lot more than I could afford. Sure, I had shared with them some of my larger expenses, but I knew what I had day-to-day. Had I purchased a home for what I'd been approved for, I would have been in foreclosure within six months. Despite what I was told, I knew I couldn't afford that much house.

A close relative almost started a painful and expensive round of treatments based on what her doctor had told her. Luckily, her daughter got her to seek a second and then a third opinion. It turns out that what the first doctor proposed wasn't necessary. If she hadn't questioned that first diagnosis, she'd be going down a painful and costly path that was completely unnecessary.

Whether it is a software program, a doctor, a financial professional or someone else with an air of authority, we have to have the courage to ask questions and seek the information that we need. Real professionals expect us to have questions and would not be offended by a second opinion.

At the end of the day, we are the ones that have to live with our decisions, so we need to make them with all of the information at our disposal.

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