Communicate

Get Better Advice By Taking Notes

We’d like to think that the people we’re paying to give us advice (like doctors, for example) would offer the same helpful advice no matter what, but reader citizenkahn writes in to suggest that if you really want to get good advice, pull out a notebook and start taking notes—a phenomenon he’s dubbed the Moleskine effect.

Photo by RogueSun Media.

I think the act of taking notes in front of others (especially doctors) entices them to give me more time and better information. Three times lately I have pulled out my moleskine and started taking notes in front of a doctor. Each time I have received tips, web site references and ideas. In one case I believe a vet spent an extra 20 minutes discussing my bird’s issues and coping strategies. I can’t be sure that this is a real cause-and-effect pattern, but it feels like one. I think that when the moleskine comes out it signals the doctor that here is someone who will follow up on the advice that’s given and sets up a virtuous circle of sorts.

So, while in a perfect world we’d all get the best advice all the time, citizenkahn’s anecdote does ring true, both from the perspective of someone who’s received and given advice.

It’s easy to offer a cursory answer to someone who’s asked you a question, but if that person pulls out a notepad and seems genuinely interested in the answer, you tend to be more willing to drop as much interesting information as you can. Ever noticed a similar effect, whether you were the person asking or answering a question? Share your experience in the comments.