Tip: Confusion creates problems and expense!


It never ceases to amaze me how some things which are so simple can get mixed up so easily. Whenever there is a little bit of confusion on the front-end of a situation, it always leads to challenges and big problems on the back-end of that situation.

Imagine a plane flying from Atlanta, Georgia to Los Angeles, California. If that aircraft is off course by three degrees when it leaves Atlanta, that won’t be much of a problem initially, but by the time it gets to California it will be a huge problem. As a matter of fact, being off by those three degrees in the beginning of the flight will keep that plane from ever finding the L.A. airport! That is a simple illustration of what this Tip is all about.

I know I have said before that it only takes an extra minute or two to go over things one or two more times in order to be clear, but it bears repeating. Just a few weeks ago we had a situation that drove that truth home to me once again.

Not long ago, we ordered twenty cases of books from a company in Miami, Florida. We needed the books by a certain deadline. In trying to determine the best shipping method, we consulted our UPS shipping chart and found that it would only take two days using “regular UPS Ground” rate for the books to travel from Miami to Atlanta, Georgia.

When we placed the order, we were asked how we wanted the product shipped. We said that we needed the product in two days, so they could just ship all of the boxes of books to us by regular UPS Ground service. However, the person on the other end did not hear the words “regular UPS Ground” – they heard the words “two days.” Therefore, they shipped all twenty cases of books to us 2-day Air! Do you know the cost difference between UPS Ground service and 2-day Air service from Miami to Atlanta? Instead of it costing $20 per box, it cost $60 per box! You do the math! Looking back, it would have only taken a minute to ask the individual to review our order with us one more time before we hung up the phone.

Because of this situation and others like it, I am learning to use two sentences that I have developed in order to reduce as much confusion as possible. The first sentence is useful when you are trying to communicate clearly with others, “Would it be possible for you please repeat back to me what I think I said so I can be sure I was clear?” That puts the responsibility on me for communicating clearly, but it politely asks the other person to explain back to me what I said so that I can be sure I was understood accurately and correctly. The other question is one I use when someone has given me some information or instruction. I ask, “May I repeat back to you what I think you said so that I can be sure I understood you correctly?” Again, that puts the responsibility for clarity upon me. Yet, it also gives another opportunity for us both to be clear in our understanding of each other.

We failed to use either one of those sentences in dealing with the book order. But, we will learn the lesson that this experience taught us. We simply paid more tuition to learn another lesson in life! We will take our “licks,” pick up the pieces, and just keep going.

Sometimes people may get irritated with you for going over things a second time or a third time, but I promise that if you will practice using those two sentences, it will eliminate a lot of confusion from your life!

These Tips are designed to help your life be better and I know for a fact that this is one of the most valuable lessons that I can apply in my everyday life. It saves me time and money in the long-run and it will do the same for you!

Tip: Confusion creates problems and expense!

Have a great week! God bless you!

Dr. Robert A. Rohm


Dr. Robert A. Rohm, Ph.D.

Dr. Robert A. Rohm, Ph.D.

Top selling author and speaker, Robert Rohm Ph.D. is founder of Personality Insights Inc. and The Robert Rohm Co. As you will see, Dr. Rohm specializes in helping people better understand themselves and others.