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When You Say It Twice, Write It Down

…and save everybody’s time.

2 min read
When You Say It Twice, Write It Down
Before Growth is a newsletter about startups before product–market fit by 3x founder and programmer Kamil Nicieja.

I’ve noticed that smart people don’t like repeating themselves. Polite ones might repeat things a couple of times, but if you meet someone who’s more direct and wants you to keep up, they’ll get increasingly annoyed if you don’t.

I think the reason is simple. Smart people usually absorb new information quickly and have good memories. They are proactive in finding new data points, which has contributed to their success. They naturally expect others to do the same. That’s their first instinct is to think, “If I know this, why don’t they?” and they’ve often had to learn to suppress it to avoid coming across as jerks.

But when they start leading people and organizations, they run into a wall. As a manager, there’s no other way: you must keep reinforcing the same message ad nauseam until everyone is on the same page.

It’s not because people are stupid. Think of a new hire. If they were stupid, you wouldn’t offer them a position. There’s simply a temporary information asymmetry between them and the rest of the team. As communication gets more complex with more people involved in a project, this gap grows in unexpected ways, even among long-term employees.

If any of this sounds familiar, here’s how you can make your job easier.

Whenever you find yourself repeating something to a second audience or in a different situation, it’s likely you’ll need to say it again and again in the future. To reduce the time you spend repeating information, write it down. Then, the next time you need to share that message, you can simply provide it in written form.

If it’s something all team members should know and remember, add it to a company-wide wiki for good measure. This is a great habit to develop for yourself and the entire organization, generating lots of useful information over time.

If you adopt it and do it consistently, your team will see the benefits and be encouraged to do the same. People usually don’t like producing documentation and see it as a chore. However, if you explain that it will save them a lot of time in the long run, they’ll eventually recognize the benefit. Even better, show it.

This advice comes from The Great CEO Within by Matt Mochary, who coaches many of the fastest-growing technology companies’ CEOs in Silicon Valley. In his book, he shares highly effective leadership and business-operating tools with CEOs and managers everywhere. I highly recommend it.

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Kamil Nicieja

I guess you can call me an optimist. I build products for fun—I’m a startup founder, author, and software engineer who’s worked with tech companies around the world.

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