Thursday, June 28, 2012

3 Quick steps to reduce frustration when providing instructions

Be specific and clear when giving directions or instructions. 

Too often, when giving instructions we are not clear with our expectations and then are frustrated when the other person does not complete the task as desired.  Think of the last time you were giving driving directions to someone and you stated turn left at the intersection, they respond stating, "Turn left" then out of habit you state "right".  "Oh, I thought you said turn left!"  "I did, and we get upset when they turn right.

During my recent trip to Panama and after unpacking my clothes, I stood there looking at a wrinkled mess in front of me.   I looked around the room and in the closets for an iron and ironing board but could not locate one.  Thankfully, I had time and after putting on some lightweight clothes, I headed for the lobby of the hotel to visit the city. The front desk attendant greeted me and I asked if guest services could bring me an iron.  He asked if I needed it immediately and I stated no since I was going out for a few hours.  Returning to my room a few hours later I found an iron sitting on a desk and realized room services followed my orders exactly but I was disappointed.  Why was I disappointed? They brought an iron but no ironing board. I had to laugh not at them but at me since they followed my instructions completely.  I envisioned ironing my shirts on my body (not a good idea) and attempting to iron the shirts on the desk (another risky idea).  Although I believed they would bring both an iron and an ironing board they followed my instructions to the letter.  Was the miscommunication a result in ‘lost in translation’ or me not clearly stating my need?  I believe it was my fault due to explaining exactly what I needed. 

How often do others follow our instructions to the letter but the results are not what we expected because we did not state what we want done?  This practice holds true regardless of the situation or the audience. 

3 Quick steps when providing instructions to reduce frustration

1.   Think out the instructions first
2.   Be specific in your instructions
3.   Have the recipient repeat the instructions or repeat them in a statement verifying the accuracy
1.      Thanks!  Housekeeping will have an iron and ironing board in my room when I return.

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