It is interesting how rarely mind-reading is included in a job description and how often it is assumed as a competency that the person who is really irritating you right now should have.   Truth is, some of us are better at anticipating another person’s needs than others. 

Once we’ve worked with someone a while, some of us can translate cryptic direction or indecipherable handwriting, mostly because we’ve gotten to know that person well enough to understand their patterns of thought and behavior.  Some of us have done the job we’ve done long enough to know the patterns of the work and pay attention well enough to be alert for and call attention to typical speed bumps in the process.   I’ve always thought of this combination of compentencies as the Radar O’Reilly phenomenon. 

The good news is, the kinds of skills that pass for clairvoyance can be learned.  That said, it’s important to remember that these competencies are cultivated over time and some people have greater aptitude than others in developing them. 

So, how do we work well with those who aren’t “Radar O’Reilly”?  Two words:  Speak up.  In other words:

  • When in doubt ask the question
  • When delegating, be clear about expectations and deadlines
  • Articulate a shared understanding of what constitutes quality/success/responsiveness
  • Be clear about how much time something should take
  • Invite questions

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