You can buy my time, but not my care


That sentence came out of the mouth of a Dr.

I was stunned.

My anger and indignation rose as though they’d splutter from my mouth.

I’d been having some health issues and was searching for answers.

The above answer came in response to my frustration loaded question, ‘what do I have to do to be heard?’

It was a few months ago but it never left me (though I left the Dr).

I found a Dr who listened and in no time I was recovering.

But it made me think. The Dr was right.

Every time we see a professional, we assume they’ll care. I thought it was the deal. But it’s not. We pay for their time. Care is separate. A bonus not always given.

I asked around, and it turns out ‘care’ is a dirty word. Consigned to the realm of bleeding hearts (the soft services).

But we need care – how do we get it?

The irony is, it costs money. You have to be willing to trust your instincts and go with the professional you can trust. They may not be the first, second, third or even fourth you consult and pay for. They may not be the flashiest. They may not be the biggest. They may not be the most credentialed. They may not be the most expensive or the cheapest.

They’ll be the one who listens and thinks about what you need more than about what they offer.

I’ve reflected on the professionals I’ve used, across many domains and realised the ones who’ve been most helpful, acclaimed and rewarded by me, are the ones who care

  • The accountant who put himself on a course to learn something he wasn’t confident about so he could help me.
  • The lawyer who took a breath, sat back and listened as I told the story, and acted as I wanted not as conventional wisdom would dictate.
  • The consultant who forewent work to direct us to someone else who could do what I needed better.
  • The call centre people who stayed on the line while they guided me through a gnarly fix.
  • The Dr who pushed aside the paperwork, clearing a space between us so she could focus on me and my story – and saw immediately what others hadn’t cared enough to see.
  • The public servant who guided me through getting help for a family member in need.
  • The bank employee who worked with me to get a good solution.
  • The beauty therapist who said “I’m not doing that on your skin” even though I’d booked in for it and was willing to pay.

In each of these instances, the professional set aside their immediate pat answers, paused, listened and brought their skills and experience to the situation, caring enough to help.

Caring isn’t about being soppy, it’s about honouring the deal. When someone wants our time, expertise and help, we care to give our best.