Had a reunion weekend with my buds from high school last weekend. In addition to just having a great time, we managed to solve all of the political, philosophical, and practical issues of the current era. And in just three days.One of the funnier aspects of the weekend was awaiting upon return home. Seems that as we cleared out and cleaned up, one of our members tried to follow orders for where to drop off the trash but managed to choose a dumpster that the owner was rather protective of. Said owner rifled through the offending trash, secured the cell phone number of one of our members, and proceeded to call this number with the threat of legal action if the trash was not removed. Since none of us was imminently local, this threat has to be seen as idle, and I doubt the local police department is interested in prosecuting one trash bag from an out-of-town visitor. But stranger things have happened, I suppose (Chris, I’ll visit you in jail).The communications lesson to be learned is that transferring knowledge is a difficult thing. Whereas our host knew exactly where to drop the trash, his directions did not effectively translate to an order that could be executed by someone else. I don’t know the directions (“turn left where the old oak tree use to be…“?) and it may have been a case of the stench expediting a dump to the first visible dumpster rather than executing the plan, but whatever, the directions did not translate effectively.When giving directions, it is imperative to know the key elements that have been transferred. Whether done by questioning or providing a visual map/diagram, there are certain points that must be communicated. If there are things that are not negotiable, they should be clear — otherwise you are relying on the logic of the receiver to carry out your plan (and I’ve found that others seldom are able to replicate my logic). If you can establish check points of know information (the stoplight), do that. Also establish a clear definition of success. Even simple things like doing an exercise in class should not be in doubt.
Directions should be clear. Give reference to known from the audience’s point-of-view.