We are, none of us, perfect. Despite best efforts and preparation, sometimes we simply trip all over our tongue when speaking, or have our words auto corrected without noticing. Opps. Over more than two decades in benefits, I can safely say I have done this more than I care to mention.
In wanting to share a giggle or two, I have compiled my top well remembered, often with a significant amount of blushing, benefit blunders.
It’s true, every day I work with numbers, rates, premiums, comparing percentages paid to the value of the plan, yet I found myself stumped by figuring out what 10% of $1,000 was in a client meeting. I actually pulled out the old calculator and was about to punch in the numbers before my brain, perhaps the coffee, kicked in.
What are ten things you can always count on?
Ode to the old vocabulary
I’ve gotten use to people commenting on my grammar from time to time, especially since I am a writer of both fiction and non-fiction. I will often reply that I am a storyteller rather than an editor, but I could not find an easy retort for being caught, red-handed, making up words.
Don’t ask the origins, I have no idea, but my two favourites were (with significant struggle, I feel have now purged them from my lexicon).
Irregardless and Budgetable
What do you call a dictionary on drugs?
Blunder with a Shudder
Then there are the metaphors. One of my first mentors in insurance instructed me that insurance is all about the stories. And he was right. We sell the invisible. No one will appreciate having insurance until there is a need and with that, stories with images help to understand the risk on an emotional level.
I love employee meetings. The opportunity to engage with those who will benefit most from a well-crafted group plan. At the time of this particular blunder, I was less than five-years in the business and was struggling to connect with the many employees who were having a hard time understanding the change in their dental package.
One lady in particular was concerned about costs and so I encouraged her to shop around if she wasn’t satisfied. But this was not the case and my comment did not seem to eliminate her anxiety. She’d had a long-standing relationship with their family dentist. I encouraged her then of course stay where she was and as there wasn’t a dental fee guide in Alberta at the time, to have a conversation with her practitioner to ensure costing would not create a need to move providers.
“Because,” I said, with what I had hoped was great authority, “there is nothing worse than having someone new in your mouth.”
Only once the words came out did I realize by the gasp and enlarged eyes how that may have been perceived.
I tried to catch some Fog.
Makes you wonder if I ever learn my lessons in employee meetings? I do. This particular example happened about 15-years after the first, so I will say, it is not a habit.
When going through benefits like life and disability coverage, I have always stayed away from talking about someone else dying or becoming disabled and will use myself as the example. “If I were an employee of” this company. In that, I have fashioned myself with the imaginary disease entitled “explosive heart syndrome” which I diagnosed after I had children and figured every parent would be afflicted with such an ailment, or at least relate. This truly has served me well for a LONG time—until it didn’t.
An employee quickly raised their hand. “Is it contagious?”
I was thrown. I didn’t at first understand. “What?” I asked, concerned.
“Explosive heart syndrome,” they said. “Is it contagious.”
I was about to laugh when I realized I was in a room of very serious individuals and had chosen the wrong line. Although I thought I had been clear that it was fiction, it was a lesson on clarity of communication and knowing your audience.
Why was the library so tall?
Because it had lots of stories.
Despite owning our blunders, we’d be pleased to engage in a meaningful conversation. Give us a call.
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