Oral Health Group

Information Anxiety Do you suffer from it?

April 1, 2001
by Catherine Wilson, Editor

Information is power, a universal currency on which fortunes are made and lost. And we are in a frenzy to acquire it, firm in the belief that more information means more power. But perhaps you suffer from information anxiety — the black hole between data and knowledge, the gap between what we understand and what we think we should understand. Many of us are inundated with facts but starved for understanding.

Only teachers and trainers think of themselves as ‘instructors’, when actually we are all instructors every time we communicate. And just how effective the communication is depends on how well it instructs. The quality of information is judged not only by its accuracy but by the impact it has on its audience.


Is it useful and relevant?

Does it have meaning or is it just a collection of facts?

Does it answer the audience’s questions?

Does it have the power to change the audience’s knowledge?

Does it help the audience take some action?

One of the best ways of communicating knowledge is through stories, because good stories are richly textured with details, allowing the narrative to convey a stable ground on which to build the experience.

Writers also serve the golden calf of style and are easily seduced into sounding literary rather than writing clearly. Iris Murdoch once said that to be a good writer, you have to kill your babies (cross out something you think approaches brilliance because it doesn’t belong or doesn’t move your point along).

This page, in fact this publication, is like a conversation: I hope you hear a voice when you read it. And like a conversation it makes leaps and one thought doesn’t always link to another in a linear fashion. For example, some random bits on information:

Michael Fortino, a US-based time management expert, concluded from his firm’s studies that the average North American will, in a lifetime, spend five years waiting in line, one year searching for belongings at home or office, three years attending meetings and eight months opening junk mail.

People remember 90 percent of what they do, 75 percent of what they say and 10 percent of what they hear.

We face stiff competition for your attention. In one year, the average North American will read or complete 3,000 notices or forms, read 100 newspapers and 36 magazines, watch 2,463 hours of television, listen to 730 hours of radio, buy 20 CDs, talk on the phone 61 hours, read three books and spend countless hours exchanging information in conversations.

– North Americans buy more than a billion books each year.

– 43% of North Americans read 5 or fewer books a year while 7% read more than 50.

You can tell whether a person is clever by their answers. You can tell whether a person is wise by their questions. Dental Practice Management’s mission is to ask quality questions; to present fresh information, to wisely instruct and to be a great storyteller.