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Communicating Clearly
work in response to customer’s expressed needs; but at times you should take the initiative. The PO3 mentioned in the above section had heard about  the  new  entitlement  for  shipping  household goods, but had he heard about the other portions of the instruction:  dependents’  travel  pay  and  dislocation allowance. Each command makes a constant effort to make sure that everyone “gets the word” through the use of bulletin boards, notes in the plan of the day, and announcements at quarters. You can improve this effort by volunteering information that the customer can use but may not know to ask for. Customers  may  get  information  from  many  sources, but that information may not be correct. During your conversations with these customers, you can usually tell from  their  questions  or  comments  that  they  have received incorrect information. When that happens, be sure to tell them the correct information. GIVING  SIMPLE  EXPLANATIONS Let’s look at a story of a junior officer who was assigned to draft a letter for the captain’s signature. After much work, the junior officer had a draft ready to go topside  for  approval.  The  next  day,  the  officer  was astounded when the captain returned the draft with the word “KISS” printed in bold, red letters across the first page. Did that mean the captain liked it? The officer pondered the meaning of the word for awhile and then began to ask others in the office if they knew what it meant. An old-timer finally explained, “That is the ‘old man’s’ way of telling you to do it over. It means, Keep it simple, stupid!” That expression may be rather crude, but it is good advice. Anytime you explain something to someone, your explanation must be understandable. You should not place the customer in the embarrassing position of having to ask for an explanation of unfamiliar terms. If you use a term in a way that implies the customer should know what it means, there will be an even greater reluctance to ask for clarification. Watch for signs that indicate the customer does not understand your instruction or explanation. When you see those signs, back up and rephrase your explantion or instruction. USING TELEPHONE COURTESY Few inventions can equal the telephone for efficient labor-saving and time-saving convenience. However, because we use it carelessly, we don’t always obtain maximum benefit. Good  telephone  communications  require  more thought than face-to-face communications. You don’t think so? Consider a sportsman who is bragging about the  success  of  his  recent  fishing  trip.  Upon  meeting  a friend, he explains by spreading his arms and saying, “I caught one this big!” When talking face to face, our gestures  and  facial  expressions  help  to  convey  the intended  message  of  our  words.  However,  if  the sportsman makes the same statement while talking on the  telephone,  his  words  have  little  meaning. When customers come to your contact point during a time when you are busy helping others, they can see the reason for your delay in serving them. However, when they call on the phone, they cannot see the reason for your delay in answering. If the phone rings several times  before  you  answer  it  or  if  you  answer  and immediately say, “Hold on,” they may think you are telling sea stories instead of tending to business. Suppose you have almost completed a financial report; you have only a few more figures to add, and then you will know if it’s going to balance. The phone rings and you ignore it. It rings a second and third time, and  you  begin  to  mutter  obscenities  about  the aggravation. In this scenario, the phone rang at an inconvenient time; but the caller had no way of knowing that. You might as well have answered it on the first ring since it interrupted   your   concentration   anyway.   Besides, answering immediately after the first ring saves time for both you and the caller. To swear at the phone for ringing 3-18

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