Who Ordered the Salmon?  I Was Too Busy Trying to Remember.

There are places to take notes, like … at a restaurant. There’s no added or greater perceived value to me, when a waiter shows up to our table to take our order with no note pad.  I don’t understand this practice.  Especially if there are more than two people and even worse, if there are five.  If they get it right, there’s no extra “wow” factor.  In fact, it should damn well be right.  That’s how this whole thing works. 

But, if they get it wrong; even just a small thing, they’ve grossly fumbled the service and of course the thought is, “yeah, you should have written it down”.  The recipient is disappointed and the waiter, if he/she has any empathy, feels badly about the mistake.  I’m not impressed by the memory trick; this isn’t America’s Got Talent.    

“Who got the salmon?”  No one.  Nobody ordered salmon.  WTF

Waiters should take notes.  There are many situations in life, business, and services that should take notes: car service repair, kitchen remodel, the doctor’s office, playground sales, and so on.

But, writing down notes is not listening.  It’s not engagement.  It’s tactical, but a lot is missed in nuance and understanding the message and the depth of the conversation.  While there’s a time for notes, to make sure we’ve got all the pertinent information, we need to engage, feel, and truly listen. 

I subscribe to a few good podcasts and the reason they work for me is there’s a genuine back and forth of two (or more) minds going on a journey together.  I feel the engagement of each person, thinking, digesting, reacting, contributing, and so on.  The combined energy is captivating. 

I recently tried to watch a podcast between an attorney and a sales trainer.  The sales trainer was genuine, authentic, and delivered some really good thoughts.  While she was doing this, the attorney never looked at her and instead, was diligently writing notes on paper.  When she was done each thought, he’d look up and respond with, “, so …”  or “right …”. 

Although he was responding, the lack of true engagement made it hard to continue watching.  Why was he taking notes?  He could easily go back to the recording later it he wanted to write some nuggets down.  If he’d just listened and responded like humans do in real-time, he would have heard what she was saying and could have responded much better. 

When I watch the Discovery Channel to see how the ancient aliens built the pyramids, I don’t sit there with a note pad.  That would be weird.  But, the information is delivered in such a way that’s informative, but equally importantly, it’s entertaining and engaging.  I’m riveted! 

And guess what.  I retain the information.  Just ask me.  Or not; we’ll go down a rabbit hole.  But, how do I remember it all?  I was listening.  The human brain isn’t designed to remember rote or cold information.  That’s why when we crammed in college, took the test the next morning, and forgot it all before the party that night. 

You know what you don’t ever see in a martial arts school?  A pencil and paper.  No notes taken and three or so years after we’ve began as a white belt, we take our black belt test.  An all encompassing test on every technique, philosophy, tactic, approach, skill, and academics on every single belt-rank throughout those years of training and the funny thing is, most people pass the first time.  No notes.  That’s true learning and all it takes is engagement. 

If it needs to be written down, keep it to a minimum.  But, for the most part, be there in the now to fully absorb the experience.


Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

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