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Are contra-indications reducing your effectiveness?

Recently, my doctor prescribed a once-daily two-week course of a fairly strong antibiotic for a low-grade bacterial infection that has been troubling me for a while.  Since I take a few multivitamins and supplements every morning with breakfast, I simply added this capsule to the daily quota.  A few days later, I happened to mention to my best friend that the antibiotics weren’t having an impact as quickly as I’d hoped.  She asked for the name of the antibiotic and (since she works in medicine) she immediately looked up the drug in an online database on her phone.

“Did you know that minerals such as calcium and magnesium are contra-indications to this antibiotic?” she asked. 

“No”, I responded. “Why?”

“Well that means that if you are taking any mineral supplements at the same time that you take this antibiotic, it will significantly reduce its effectiveness,” she patiently explained.

Oops!  I was taking both calcium and magnesium supplements at exactly the same time as the antibiotic.  Apparently, I needed to separate the antibiotic from these minerals by at least two hours!  And yes, I should have known that … that is, if I had read the circular that came with my prescription.  My bad!!

Leaving aside the fact that I didn’t properly read the materials that came with the drugs, this situation got me thinking about how there are so many other situations in life and work when we inadvertently reduce the effectiveness of what we are doing, simply by not thinking about the contra-indications.  Here are a couple of workplace examples that I have observed repeatedly.

You share the positive quarterly results with your team at your regular weekly department meeting, and acknowledge the concerted teamwork it took to get there.  But you then immediately follow with “Let’s not get too excited though.  We still have a challenging few months coming up that could have a negative impact on results.”  Would have it been wiser to wait a few days to let the team enjoy the glow of success?  And then bring up the upcoming challenges in the next weekly meeting? 

You make it a point to thank one of your co-workers for helping you meet a deadline.  But minutes later, you send him a curt response to an email because you don’t agree with his opinion on the topic under discussion.  Without meaning to, you’ve just reduced the effectiveness of the earlier compliment.  Might the previous positive feedback have meant more if you’d waited a few hours before tactfully responding to his current email?

I’d love to know what you think?  Is it worthwhile to consider “contra-indications” and your timing?  Or is easier and less complicated to simply say what you mean when you need to?  After all, we’re working with adults who should be able to handle negative messages.  I’d love to hear your perspective.  Please share your thoughts directly on the blog at

Hate your job?  Merge’s asks and answers this provocative question in The Globe and Mail

If you’re spending eight hours a day (or more) in a job that you’re not crazy about, then it’s time to stop whining around the water cooler and do something about it.  In Hate your job? You have three choices, Merge outlines three possible options.

Turning Managers into Leaders

That Merge LOVES referrals?

Merge's professional practice is built entirely on word-of-mouth, so we are always very thankful when someone thinks highly enough of what Merge does to recommend her to others. Are there people in your organization that could benefit from one of Merge's leadership training programs? Or perhaps you have one or more high-potential leaders who would value perspectives and advice from personalized one-on-one mentoring? Or maybe you belong to an association that would enjoy and learn from one of Merge's keynotes or breakout sessions at your next conference or convention? If so, we'd appreciate your help in getting in touch with the right people. Just contact us and Merge or one of her staff will reach out to you to obtain more information.


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