Are doctors more unreliable than Tradespeople?
Are tradespeople unfairly stigmatised?
(A story about a visit to the doctor)
I had a Doctor’s appointment recently. It was for 9:30 on a Wednesday morning. I arrived in plenty of time. At 9:55 I was told that my appointment had been cancelled.
I thought nothing of it. That is until a HomeForce customer berated me for providing – and I quote – an “Unreliable, Cowboy tradesman”. The tradesman’s crime was to cancel an appointment 5 hours before the appointed time.
It turned out the tradesperson had to look after his sick child. He’d explained this to the customer though they felt it was unacceptable and therefore had licence to be rude to the tradesperson, and me.
Maybe I’m too easy going. Why didn’t I accuse my doctor of being an unreliable cowboy?
Doctors are different to tradespeople, so it’s OK. Right?
Perhaps it’s that Doctors (in fact almost any professional service provider) are inherently viewed as more worthy of respect than tradespeople. But is that fair?
- It happens that one architect may quote double the price of another, but we don’t exclaim that they are charging outrageous prices. We accept that they are maybe more experienced or better qualified.
- It happens that a lawyer charges for his time to research a particular legal point but we don’t accuse him of spinning out the job to make more money.
- It happens that two accountants disagree how an asset should be valued but we don’t accuse one of being incompetent.
- It happens that a doctor has to cancel one appointment to attend to an emergency, but we don’t scold them for being unreliable.
Tradespeople are not perfect (who is?), and perhaps they are late for and cancel appointments more often than a doctor or another profession. But then again when did you last go to a doctor and be seen at the precise time of the appointment?
Stereotypes are unhelpful to everyone
It occurred to me that we are too ready to accept the caricatured depiction of groups of people as presented by the media rather than take each individual as they come.
- Are all bankers greedy?
- Do all politicians fiddle their expenses?
- Will all immigrants take advantage of the NHS?
Our acceptance of stereotypes is more often driven by what we read or watch than by personal experience.
And that is to the detriment of our relationships with individuals in these groups. Treat anyone (including a tradesperson) with respect and you’ll get the same respect back. Don’t and…well, you’ll get something different.
So please, Dear Customer, next time you want to let rip at a tradesperson for some misdemeanour, just pause and think. If this was my Doctor, how would I react?