Communication…we were created with two ears for hearing/listening and one mouth for talking. In fact, effective communication is 90 percent listening to what the other person is saying. The same goes for written communication, to read/listen to what the other person is relaying. You respond once you grasp their meaning; if need be, you might ask clarifying questions before you respond and/or start a task.
Time and errors would be cut in half if people would listen first, and then question to make sure what they heard or read is what the person meant; and only then proceed with a response or an action.
This is a simplistic example of someone not listening to the question: How long does it take to get to Salt Lake City from Reno? The person asked responds, well first you drive by Winnemucca then the Ruby Mountains, then you drive through Windover and the Bonneville flats. Did they answer the question? NO. The question was not how do I get to Salt Lake City, it was how long does it take to get to Salt Lake City.
The answer should have been a simple response like this: between six to eight hours, depending on how many stops you make and how fast you drive.
I sometimes wonder if people really pay attention to anything but the noise in their heads. We should all work on clearing that noise and really paying attention during communication. Time is a precious commodity, and inefficient and ineffective communication practices are simply wastes of time.