Why Isn’t Common Sense More Common?

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You think that taking a certain action on the job is OBVIOUS but then your staff go and do the opposite, and you go into apathy or despair of ever getting things done without your constant input or watching over their every move.  How can things go so wrong?

Voltaire (French writer back in the 1700’s) wrote that “common sense is not so common”.  It seems that common sense is “user specific” and is based on personal experience.  Let’s look at the definition:

Common sense is sound, practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge in a manner that is shared by nearly all people.

– Wikipedia

Sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.  Example: “So far, I’ve had the common sense not to tweet anything ghastly.”

– Merriam-Webster

How Can You Instill Common Sense in your Practice?

Let’s start with the fact that common sense can be learned and can also be unlearned if it is wrong.  Failure can be a great teacher if you have a good student who can observe and learn from mistakes.  And, if one is really observing the true situation they are confronted with, the more likely they are to come up with the correct decision or actions.

Look at all the options

By taking a few minutes to consider what the variable options are to deal with a certain situation, the better the decision may be.  You mentally have to follow down the results of each option being considered.  You can also read, study, watch YouTube videos, go on Google, and so on to learn more and experience more on the subject before deciding or acting.

Acting out of fear

Sometimes people do know what the correct choice of actions to take is but are too afraid of failure to take that path, and instead take the path of least resistance and fail to show common sense.

Gaining experience

When it comes to positions or job functions in the practice, there are several ways of teaching the correct experience that will result in common sense:

  1. Apprenticeship: Never assume that someone joining your team will know exactly how your practice functions and what it considers common sense actions.  Ideally, the person who is moving on from the position should train the new person thoroughly and over a period of a week or two.
  2. Training:

(a)  There should also be a complete job description including a write-up of the successful actions and all the functions and how they are done.  This can be referred to after the previous person has moved on.

  • Office protocols should be fully documented and should be thoroughly understood.
  • A practice policy manual including a Code of Conduct should exist and be fully read and understood.
  1. Drilling/repetition:

You actually can have the new person go through the actions or protocols with you or the person who is moving on, and practice the sequence of actions and make sure the person understands why things are done that way.  This could be done by role playing and so on.

Have patience

You cannot beat or force common sense into your peeps.  You need to learn to be patient and lead them with clarity into the ability to make correct decisions in the future and, ideally, you should add any new decision or information to the job description so future staff occupying that position can read and know what is correct.

Keep in mind that your team WANT to please you and continue working for you.  Therefore, any mistakes or errors are not likely to have been done on purpose.  Just patiently guide them into the required common sense for their position.

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