Don’t assume that People Understand

Sometimes we ask someone for something or request a service.  We explain what we want and we assume that people understand.  Amazingly people can misunderstand you very easily.

When a manager is asking an employee to do a certain task, he’d better explain it very well and put it in writing.  You have to make sure that the person you are talking to understands exactly what you mean or else you will be surprised and maybe frustrated by the results. 

A nice joke that serves as a good example for my argument is the one I received from Mr. Paul Sloane ( in his destination Innovation Newsletter:

One of our staff was leaving so I phoned the bakery to order a special cake. They asked what wording I wanted.  I said, ‘Best wishes Suzanne’ and underneath that , We will miss you.’  This is what I got.”

Lessons learnt are: 

1- Be specific not vague.

2- Explain very well.

3- Don’t jump into details without a proper introduction for mind setting, if needed – Don’t assume people know what you are talking about.

3- If you can put it in writing do that (if applicable)

4- Make the person you talked to repeat the task he’ll do in his own words to make sure he grasped what you said.

After all that, all you can do is hope that your message was not misunderstood.


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