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It’s amazing what you can learn when you read the entire letter or instructions.

A man called me and told me that he had a problem a few days ago. When I asked him about the nature of the trouble, he told me that he didn’t want to lie. He read all of the legal statements on our application, and one line was untrue for him. He wouldn’t sign something that wasn’t true. Yes, I am happy to report that there are still honest people in the world.

It turns out that he had already received our services. It was many years ago, but he doesn’t qualify to receive our services again. I thanked him for his honesty and referred him to another program where he will hopefully be able to receive assistance. While his honesty was refreshing and extremely rare, the fact that he actually read the entire application really impressed me. Very few people read all of the legal language on our applications. Many people not only skip the legal jargon, but fail to read the instructions to the application, as well.

People often bring applications to me with no accompanying documentation at all. When I ask them if they brought their documentation, they usually counter with “What documentation?” That’s when I remove the very first page of the packet, which lists everything we need, and hand it to them.

I recently had a woman give me a stern lecture for not telling her our business hours. She happened to have the letter that I sent her in her hand. When she finally stopped berating me, I pointed to the last sentence in the last paragraph, which gave our office hours. She then informed me that never reads a whole letter. That would be why she drove all the way to my office twice when we were closed. Reading that one sentence would have saved her a great deal of time and frustration. This particular letter was roughly a half page long.

It isn’t only in my work life that I find this lack of reading an entire document to be the case. I occasionally have family members and friends who hand me correspondence and tell me they don’t understand it. I read the entire letter and normally the answers to their questions are written right there in black and white. They just skim their letters and assume they get all of the information that way.

We live in a busy society. I meet myself coming and going most of the time. I have to write important dates on my calendar or I will completely forget. However, when I receive important letters or paperwork that needs completed, I read the entire document. This practice has saved me a great deal of grief.

A year or two ago, our cable company changed their signal and were giving customers two reception boxes each. The boxes enabled us to receive their signal. My husband didn’t read that part. He only read that they were changing the signal and that our fairly new digital TV sets wouldn’t work anymore. He was livid.

I worked at a TV station when the government forced us to turn off our analog and start using digital signals. I vividly remember that nightmare. I’ve never had so many people curse at me in my life. I knew what the cable company was doing would be a walk in the park compared to the digital conversion. So, I read the entire letter, which explained everything. I drove to the office and picked up our boxes. No big deal.

You can learn a lot by simply reading a letter or instructions. We all have busy lives, but making time to read our important papers can actually save time in the long run.

Thank you for reading Ozarks Maven! If you have enjoyed my little seeds of wisdom and joy, please subscribe to Ozarks Maven, Like Ozarks Maven on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter @OzarksMaven.

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