Posted by: syncopated1 | May 17, 2011


Always ask questions before proceeding.

As kind of an amusing follow up on Chapter 6. Chapter 6 was all about clarity and the importance of communication. Today’s strip from aside, last week I learned this lesson the hard way. All week long. At work I had two or three projects that, in retrospect, are very simple. And when my coworker Steve gave me these projects I asked a few questions about them and jumped in head first with all the confidence in the world. Oh boy, did I screw at least two of those projects up! And more than once. It was very demoralizing.

In the boat building business, a builder is only as good as his ability to hide his mistakes and have a pretty finished product. I’m okay right now I suppose. But with Steve’s help and many, many hours over the budgeted number allotted for those simple projects, my mistakes thus far have been fixed. I’m by no means perfect, and far from past the point of screwing up on a semi-regular basis, but last week I learned to once again ask all the questions I possibly can before even taking out the tape measure. This becomes more important the older I get; when I was in Boat School it was okay to ask a few questions, mess up, and start again with more question. That is what school is designed for. As an adult, I’m playing for real, and it comes out of the company’s pocket when I have to spend extra time fixing my mistake, which means that eventually it trickles down to me as consequences as no raise, or smaller bonuses, or, if messing up becomes a pattern, the loss of a job.

I use work as an example because last week was rough. I mean really rough. And it gave me a ready example to continue this discussion on communication. But asking questions before making a move is important in personal lives as well. I believe that people are fundamentally honest with each other (if for no other reason than I am lazy and it takes so much more effort to lie and keep track of lies than it does to just tell the truth and let it rest on its own merits), but despite that honesty we don’t always volunteer information readily. I’m like that, I tell people that I have no secrets; I will answer any question honestly, but it is up to you to ask the question.

I digress: with people it seems that, even more often than with things like my work projects, we learn as little as possible as we can at interpersonal situations, opinions, and relationships before we get involved and begin mucking around. In my experience (which, at the age of 25, is only approaching the magnitude of appreciable), this more often than not creates more problems, confusion, and questions, all of which add up to my arch-enemy: drama in the personal life. Like my fuck-ups at work, all of this can be easily avoided if we take five minutes to think about it and ask every question that comes to mind and THEN proceed carefully and considerately. Especially if the situation (or work) is something you’ve never encountered before.

You can’t do anything about how other people answer you’re questions. Except ask more questions, and hopefully, if you ask enough questions then you have enough information to piece together a path forward that resembles the desired finish project.


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