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How to make instructions clear

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Ever given someone instructions for completing a task, only to have her do something totally different? Follow these guidelines for more clarity:

Be sure you have someone’s full attention. Don’t give instructions just before lunch or before someone is heading out the door. Set up an appointment to give the instructions in your work area.

Start with the key points. Instead of just launching into a detailed description of the work, provide an overall framework and then fill in the blanks.

Reinforce with examples. No matter how well you have explained things, tangible instructions help prevent confusion. Examples will help show how the finished product should look.

Ask for confirmation. Follow up shortly after the project begins to see if anything is needed.

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