“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion it has taken place”

“The Met Office have issued an amber weather warning” the weather man announced the other day. I must have heard that quite a few times over the past few years in particular but for some reason on that day I thought “right so what does that mean I do now”.

My initial assumption was this meant more than a brolly and scarf. Amber to me means either rev your engine we are about to press the pedal to the metal and burn off the terrified pensioner in the Ford Ka to my left. Or it means slow down tiger or you’re gonna run a red. 

Rather than google I thought I would consult the font of all knowledge (Matt) over a socially distanced windswept coffee. “Increased likelihood of adverse weather impacting on your ability to go about your normal activities” he said. “Right and I should know that yeah?” I ventured. “Yes, you should”. 

The truth is that in this day and age we work on the simple assumption that as long as we have communicated a message we can then sit back and assume it has been received. We also work on the basis that because I know what an amber weather warning is today I will retain this information for the rest of my life despite the daily loss of brain cells. 

In the work place “did you not get the memo?” has been replaced by “did you not get the email?” or god forbid “did you not get the memo attached to the email?”. It’s the famous get out of jail card for email nazi’s who live on-line and make life for disorganised morons like me hell. “I do work on the desk 5 feet north of you Jean, could you not have just told me” is not a defence. Jean sent the email 3 weeks ago when you were at that sales conference in Inverness and you should have accepted, put it in your electronic diary, copied it to your manual diary then let your husband/wife/partner know by posting on the fridge calendar at home. 

We also hear it a lot in the recruitment field. “I sent them my CV 3 weeks ago, I’ve heard nothing so I’m assuming they are not hiring”. Unfortunately sending the CV does not mean the recipient immediately printed off 200 copies and ran round the building urging colleagues new and old to hire with immediate effect for fear losing out to the competition. Chances are it takes a while until it is looked at and then it may only be fleeting particularly when it a speculative application rather than for a specific role that has been advertised. I often advise therefore to identify 2-3 key decision makers in a company and plan a staggered and modified approach and always with a follow-up call planned. Its also important to re-visit if it is a company that is of particular interest to you as things change rapidly and companies are not good at creating candidate databases for future reference. As ever however, there is a fine line between actively interested and being an applicant pest/desperado so timing is essential to ensure communication HAS taken place.

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