When my friend, June, called about driving together to a dinner party an old friend had invited us to, I was surprised. I’d already told her we weren’t going because we were out of town. No, she said, I’d said that we were going. I was as sure I’d told her I wasn’t going as she was that I’d said we were.
Luckily, this is minor and our friendship will survive. Hopefully, at our age we realize that poor communication and different memories are a fact of life.
You know the expression, “We shook on it.” Or, “His/her word is good enough for me.” I like the idea but not for the important decisions. I’m continually surprised by how often this happens in employer/employee relationships.
In this world of 24/7 work, most of us can’t remember what we said yesterday, never mind last week. Communication is often a haphazard affair of brief conversations on the fly and trailing emails. Even when you sit down to discuss work issues, it’s not unusual that one person recalls the conversation differently.
Which is why you have to write down and get confirmation about what you’ve agreed on.
Don’t have the laptop with you at the meeting? Then write down the key points of agreement as soon as possible and email it to the other party. Worried it might seem too formal? Explain you’re doing this to be sure you both know what you’ve agreed on. It’s amazing how often people can remember a conversation differently.
I’ve recently been told about 2 different examples of just this. “Diane” had a verbal agreement from her management team to work virtually 4 days/week, at the same pay she’d been working at when she was work every day. Six months later, one member of the team is saying that’s wasn’t the agreement “Diane”stands to lose substantial salary but she’s fearful that if she pushes back now, she won’t get the support and will only alienate the group.
“Kim” is returning to work after a 3 month disability leave. Before taking the leave, she was “told” that her job was safe and additional job accommodations would be made when she returns. But her job was phased out and her manager doesn’t want to make the accommodations that she agreed to previously. “Kim” has to lay the groundwork all over again for the accommodations request.
In most situations, if your supervisor wants to fight you with, “he said, she said”, the supervisor has the upper hand. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth the conflict. But a written agreement makes it that much more difficult for the other person to say, “That’s not true. I don’t remember it that way.”
Do you know of a situation where a written agreement made a difference regarding the outcomes? Or it didn’t?