I have previously written about the fundamentals of communication: The Three Keys of Communication. The focus of that blog was about how we can better communicate with our teams and others by:
- Keeping the message simple
- Repeating repeating repeating the message
- Ensuring that our audience clarifies and confirms our message.
But, these three keys are often not sufficient. When giving specific directions or instructions, we need to ensure that the people with whom we are communicating write our message or request down on a piece of paper or make a note on a phone or computer.
In a recent meeting I attended, the Vice President asked the person presenting to follow up on a certain issue directly with the customer. The person presenting immediately replied that he would do exactly that. But, he did not write anything down. About 20 minutes later as the meeting was wrapping up, I asked the person about the action items that he was going to follow up on.
You guessed it…!!!
He had totally forgotten about doing what the Vice President had asked him to do 20 minutes earlier.
I am confident that situations similar to this happen each and every day in our meetings and in our workplaces. We have so much going on that we forget. We do not intend to. But, we forget. And, as a result of our forgetting, we do not get done what needs to be done.
As the author and teacher, Hal Macomber, writes:
“Forgetfulness is part of our human condition. We think that because we can remember that we will remember. Yet, we all know that even a small distraction is enough for us to forget.”
So, I want to remind all of us to write it down. After a meeting or a conversation, re-cap the action items that need to be completed and either write them down on our ‘To-Do’ list or type the action items into a reminder on our phone or computer.
As the Chinese Proverb says:
“The palest ink is better than the best memory.”