RTFM Redux

My sixth-grade teacher, Ms. Sitver, once gave our class an exercise in following directions.  There were about 20 different steps to it, and she gave it to us with the caveat that we should read the whole exercise from top to bottom before we performed any of the tasks listed within the exercise.  The idea was that anyone who read the whole exercise through before starting would see step #20, which says rather plainly that no one should follow steps #1-19. Steps #1-19 were all silly things, like clap your hands five times or do a little jig next to your desk.  All the folks who read the thing through before starting were sitting at their desks, quietly snickering at the people who were clapping or doing jigs next to their desks.

Lately, I find myself wishing that a lot of the vendors we do business with were in that class.  We send out requests for information on a fairly regular basis to gain market intelligence for our clients, and whenever we do, my staffers find themselves fielding phone calls and e-mails from people who probably wouldn't be asking the questions they're asking if they had taken the time to read through what we've sent them.  Either they're not reading them, or their reading comprehension skills are off a bit.  We'll write something like "Please do not [foo] during the process." and then answer a dozen phone calls from vendors asking whether they should [foo] or not.

Yeah, I know.  Vendors have a lot more complaints about media planning types than we have about vendors.  I just wish we could learn how to communicate more effectively by paying attention to one another.