Information overload is a health hazard

Enthusiasm for your services and a desire to help your customer as much as possible are among the greatest strengths of many good service providers. However, they can also become your greatest weakness.

I’ve been thinking about this while dealing with the many medical people I’ve come across throughout my prolonged period of cancer treatment. This is nurses, doctors, specialists, dieticians. They all have lots of stuff they want to tell you; lots of beautifully designed booklets and leaflets they want to give you. And in case that doesn’t totally, completely and absolutely overwhelm you they offer you websites to go and get even more information from.

They mean well, but more is not better. Simple is better.

I had a senior chemotherapy nurse admonish me for not doing something. “Didn’t you read that in your information booklet”, she said. Am I expected to remember every sentence in every booklet and information sheet that I’ve been handed throughout this process?

Too much information results in lower retention. And how am I a mere patient, unfamiliar with the ways of the medical world’, expected to sift the essential from the mildly useful and only in certain circumstances?

With written information there could be a few questions at the end. These could be multiple choice and True/False questions and the answers on the following page. This would be a way of focusing on the essentials.

Face-to-face it’s a case of keeping information brief and giving it in small chunks. “The 3 key things for you to be aware of are…”

My way of getting this across to these well-meaning wonderful medical people is to sit across from them, make eye contact and say, “In my view everyone in the medical profession at all levels should have to repeat the following mantra 7 times every day, not just during their training but every working day:

“Information overload is a health hazard

“Information overload is a health hazard

“Information overload is a health hazard

“Information overload is a health hazard

“Information overload is a health hazard

“Information overload is a health hazard

“Information overload is a health hazard”

It certainly gets their attention. I’d like to think our little discussion will be memorable for each one of them!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Jurek Leon is a storyteller, speaker and trainer. Subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly 'Terrific Tips' e-newsletter at Alternatively, email