I admit it; there are various personality types, some of which clearly don’t take pride in paying attention. I had a boss once early in my career who emotionally tortured me into being amazing. Here’s how it would go:
me: “What is the difference between x and y?”
boss: “I already gave you that information. Go through your emails until you find it.”
Well then. I did what I was told. I dug through my emails until I found what I was looking for (even though it was sent to me weeks/months prior). The point, which I didn’t understand at the time, is that I was responsible for the information being provided to me. She (yes, SHE) taught me that it isn’t her job to regurgitate information to me that had already been provided once. That small step led me to realizing that I wasn’t actively engaged. I was asking questions that could have been answered if I had just paid attention. Paid attention to what I was listening to, paid attention to what I was reading, and paid attention to the task at hand.
The best person is the person who asks the right questions and gives the right answers. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need to hear the ten minute back-story to a question that should have taken .2 seconds to respond to. Help me understand how lack of proper communication has swept our professional industries like a plague of intellectual laziness? When I communicate directions, or a question (quite clearly I must say), why does it take most people two or three semi-novel length responses before I get the answer? These moments make up a lot of WTF moments throughout my day. These are professional, highly educated, brilliant individuals I’m dealing with….and yet…. and yet the transfer of information is torturous. There are many moments when I stare at my computer screen silently screaming “Answer the fucking question”.
Perhaps I am mean. Perhaps I embody why female dominators in the workplace are deemed bitchy. Regardless, my mantra is that if I have certain expectations for my children (my childrennnnn), then I should certainly have the same expectations from the colleagues I work with/for. Let me give you an example….I have many to choose from.
me: “Child….love of my life….please wash your face, brush your teeth and pick out your outfit for tomorrow”.
me (ten minutes later): “Babe, I can see an oil slick on your face. Did you wash your face?”
kid: “no, I didn’t hear you…sorry”.
Mmmhmm. See how that goes. Give three directives, get one back. It’s like the 2-step with no awesome music.
I have decided that today is the day I will download my vast wealth of knowledge on the subject. Here we go. Wait for it…..
“Listen”. That’s all it is. When you read an email, listen to what is being said. What is being communicated to you and why? What is being asked for? When you are verbally involved in dialogue, whether in a meeting or with your miniature human, listen. Pay attention man…..good grief. I can’t punish the professional adults in my life the same way I do my children, but I can certainly make it less pleasurable to deal with me than it would be if you were awesome and paid attention. Don’t be that person. Just don’t.