This real incident has served up two decades worth of laughs for my
wife and me. It occurred we were working with a local charity. They
had just installed a new phone system that had the ability to forward
calls to another number when the charity’s office was closed. We had
been asked to write up an instruction sheet so everyone knew how to
use the new feature.

I had typed up step-by-step directions, which included as the last line the
instruction, “Hang up phone”.

As my proofreader, my wife read through the instructions.

“Drop the last line,” she said, “it is insulting. Everyone will know to hang
up the phone.”

I agreed that it was too obvious a task so deleted it.

The following Saturday we were giving a training session. The first
volunteer stepped up to phone to use the new instruction sheet. Step-by-
step she handled the instructions flawlessly. After she followed the last
line on the sheet she looked up, holding the receiver in her left hand.

“What do I do now,” she queried.

Betty and I looked at each other with a connection that only two people
in love would understand. With both of us laughing inwardly it is unclear
who said it, but one of us was able to get the words out, “Hang up

We learned that although people are very smart, there are times you need
to cover explain things in basic detail.

To this day every time we see a situation where someone had assumed
something to be too obvious to mention we look at each other and say in
unison, “Hang up phone.”

Assumptions can be detrimental in the workplace. Just because someone
that does something on a regular basis, or someone sets up a new
system or process, does not mean that others will follow the same steps
and assumptions as the originator or expert. Be precise and complete
when you train others or document processes.

Life Lessons:
  • Morale #1: Do not make assumptions.
  • Morale #2: There is humor all around us.

Use this ah-ha moment story for developing skills in these areas:

This is an excerpt from “Life’s Leadership Lessons” a collection of 53
anecdotal leadership lessons, each with an anecdote and the application
of the topic in your everyday life. It is designed for use in weekly staff
meetings or for personal development.

Aesop established hundreds of years ago with his timeless fables we
remember words best when we become engaged in a story. Max has
compiled an anecdotal story collection designed to generate “ah-ha”
Click here to see more.

©2007, 2017 Max Impact, Rochester Hills, Michigan, USA
The incomplete phone