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How many times do I have to tell you!?

Chances are you have heard this question yelled at you – whether from a parent, spouse, teacher or even your boss. Perhaps you say it yourself? I know I have used it once or twice with Rosie – our confident and frankly bossy* 10 year old.

And for a question so often used… I wondered if there is actually a valid reply…

Those of you who have seem me doing a keynote conference speech or a training workshop will know I am a big fan of effective communication. What’s there NOT to like? But it’s so easy to talk about effective communication – and yet so little understood.

What do we mean by effective communication? How do we know that it has happened? Well I have arrived at a definition. Not perfect – but it’s the best one I have (Got any others? Let me know).


Yup – without the recipient understanding what you ‘communicated’, then you haven’t communicated!

  • “But I TOLD you before!”
  • “We covered this in the previous lecture”
  • “I sent you an email!”
  • “Remember our phone call?”
  • “It’s on the notice-board”
  • “It was discussed at last week’s meeting”

The trouble is, all the above bullet points are simply communication METHODS. None of which guarantee that the recipient has understood a) what we actually mean and b) their part in the next step (if any)

Ideally (not always possible I know), once you believe you have communicated an idea, issue or instruction (especially an instruction), check to see if the recipient fully understands what you want them to do about it. You’ll be surprised how many different interpretations are given to the same word – even when that word is commonly used between sets of people.

You may find yourself having to repeat instructions a number of times to ensure clarity and understanding…

So the answer to “How many times do I need to tell you?” is: AS OFTEN AS NECESSARY!

Yoo wisdom: Especially when issuing instructions, ask someone to repeat back to you their understanding of what you want them to do.

Be your best Yoo


Andy and the team at Yoo

*I hear that little girls are never ‘Bossy’ – but they may display early ‘Leadership Skills’!

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