WINDBAGGERY AND PONTIFICATION
Definition of Pontification from the Urban Dictionary
The act of speaking out for the purpose of hearing oneself speak.
Posturing…speaking to people that don’t really care what you say one way or another since you’re speaking solely to front yourself as “someone in charge”.
Speech or written communication that is generally pointless except to cast favorable light upon the speaker or author as if the message were a pronouncement from on high.
Usually full of shit.
As those who know me have observed, I am spending a lot of my time at conferences these days. The topic is always pertinent to Patient Safety, because that has become my true calling. I am finally confident enough to speak up at these conferences and meetings. It took me a while to get to this point, because I was angry, grieving and skeptical and I might have come across as whiny or mean. But, most of all, I never wanted anyone to call me a windbag.
We all know wind bags. But, no profession is any better at being WBs than doctors. Please do not get me wrong. I know, respect and honor many doctors and many of them are my friends and colleagues. I have learned so much from doctors, and a few have given me excellent treatment and care. I am not casting a big net here when I say that some doctors are the biggest windbags I have ever met, and they have really honed their skills at their windbaggery.
Example. When I attend conferences, I consider myself an equal with all of the other attendees and presenters. I may not have the titles and letters behind my name or the years of education, but I wouldn’t be there if the conference organizers and I didn’t think I had something to offer. It has taken me a long time to build my experience, education and passion to a point where I feel like I can make a contribution in the form of comments and questions, and sometimes as a speaker or part of a panel presentation. When I started my advocacy for Patient Safety 5 years ago, I barely said anything in my meetings. Now I do, and I want to, but I honestly do try to hold and organize my thoughts and I politely wait my turn. And I do not go on and on and on and on, with what I have to say. I try to sound intelligent, respectful and sometimes humorous and to make my message important and brief. When I know that there are several other people behind me waiting for their turn at the microphone, I keep it brief.
Now Doctors….that is another story. Some doctors are just fine…they introduce themselves as a doctor, say where they work and go on with their brief comment or question. These brilliant doctors can often say so much in such a short time that I know I MUST pay close attention.
MDWBs are a different story. ( Medical Doctor Wind Bags). I recently listened to one like that. He was about my age, quite heavy, very imposing and extremely long winded. He spent the first 5 minutes at the mike listing his titles, his jobs, his schools, his professional accomplishments, and his IMPORTANCE! This pontification of HIMSELF made me bite my tongue, and gave me heartburn. Then after that 5 minutes he launched into his comment. He had no questions for the presenters…he just wanted to be sure he had HIS comments heard. I lost interest after he listed his first several titles, and I remember very little of what he had to say. He conducted this boring self-portrait and comment while at least a half dozen other attendees waited behind him for their turn to comment ….he had no regard for anyone except himself. I did not get to make my comment on that particular presentation and neither did about 6 others, because this doctor was so long winded. That kind of ego and arrogance can actually get a doctor into trouble in his/her practice.
When I described this experience to my lifelong friend Charlotte, she said that these meetings ought to have a GONG! HA…what a great idea. I honestly think I will suggest this to the organizers of the event I just attended.
Another example of MD Windbaggery in these meetings is when we have workshops with doctors. We are all equals in those workshops. We all start out politely, and with respect for each other and our time, and we raise our hands to be called on in order. Then one long winded doctor speaks, and another doctor feels the need to respond out of turn, and all of a sudden, it is a doctor to doctor conversation, and the rest of us, who politely hold up our hands to be called on, are left out. A woman sitting next to me at my most recent conference (also a patient advocate) said “I’m deflated”, and she put her hand down. Disgusting. When I had about lost my patience with this arrogance and rudeness, I whispered in our meeting facilitator’s ear that my hand had been up for a really long time.
So, my suggestion for a solution to this windbaggery and pontification is a GONG…..or maybe a little bell or gavel, and time limits for every single comment or question……including those of DOCTORS.