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
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 phone.”
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.
- 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
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.
As 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” moments during coaching sessions,
presentations, and meetings. Click here to
©2007 Max Impact, Rochester Hills, Michigan,USA