I Can’t Seem to Understand my Client’s Instructions – Help!

It’s early in the morning, and you have received a new task from your client. You read the instructions several times and said: “Am I working for the NSA?” You’re sure you’re not a cryptographer, and yet you have this feeling to decipher each instruction given by your client. By not understanding the message and instructions given, you thought that your client went cryptic again.

Following instructions sounds easy not until you’re stuck at one point and you don’t know how to proceed. Instructions are the set of steps and information you need to use to finish a task. Every client has their own way of giving instructions. Some are as comprehensive as a court stenographer while others seem to just be giving a twitter post, they feel that they’ll run out of characters.

There are several channels in which the instructions are given. If you received first-hand instructions and you clearly understood it, then there would be no problem. A problem may arise if the instructions relayed is not the same from the source.

Skype and Voxer are the standard tools a VA uses to communicate with their client. These tools are of great help regarding communications, yet these could also be a source of misunderstanding. Think of a 10-second Voxer voice message from your client or a little reply from Skype.

One of the reasons why a VA can’t seem to follow the instruction is because there are missing a piece, or it’s not clear.

Before you begin working on a task, read the instructions several times and make sure you understand it. Once you do, paraphrase what you understood and clarify this to your client. If your client affirms that it’s the right thing to do, then you may begin the tasks. If the client says otherwise, then you need to probe intelligently. Your client is always busy, and they don’t have much time for question and answer that’s why when you ask, be precise and accurate.

It’s essential to confirm what you understand as the given set of instructions, is the same as what your client meant for you to do. Sometimes you’re so familiar with the tasks that you don’t bother to ask or clarify, and it turns out that what you think you understand is not what your client meant for you to do. This could be a terrible horror for someone who works on a particular project that took weeks to complete, and your client asks you to do a rework.

There is a thin line between not understanding and misunderstanding the instructions. It’s better to admit that you don’t understand the instructions so you could ask than to misread direction and redo the work.


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