Have you ever thought about the value of using good listening skills to decrease the need for do-overs, increase your productivity, or save you and others valuable time while using texts or emails? Have you ever interpreted a text or email one way only to find out that’s not what the writer wanted?

Interpreting texts and emails from your perspective without clarification can be just as frustrating or time-consuming as if you were speaking directly with the person. Verifying the writer’s intent with asking questions for clarification is the key.

Recently, in an email, while we were preparing for an upcoming trip to Spain and Portugal, my girlfriend asked: “Could you send me a copy of the places and dates that we have nailed down.”

Without clarifying what dates she was referring to, I went back over ALL my emails regarding the trip and sent her the dates of the Airbnb’s and tours that we’d confirmed. She then responded with, “Those aren’t the dates I was needing. I only need the dates that we’ll be in each city”. Simple? Yes, but without my clarifying her intent, valuable time was lost.

By not using the key elements for listening when interpreting written messages, it took me time to refer back to my saved emails and forward them all to her with information on each Airbnb and tour which took up valuable time.  If I’d simply asked, “Which specific dates do you want?” I could have quickly looked at the calendar and responded immediately. Instead, when not receiving the information she needed, she had to take her valuable time and texted me, “This is what I was trying to convey”, accompanied by a picture highlighting the dates needed.

Lesson learned: Even though I train and coach on listening skills, I too fall into the bad habit of interpreting messages from email and texts the way I think the writer is thinking. How about you? We all come with our own filters and preconceived ideas even when reading written material that requires a response.

So, to eliminate frustrations and use your valuable time wisely,  take a few minutes and confirm written requests with clarification questions. They will confirm yay or nay! Valuable time well spent.

Here’s to good listening!

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