If you’re like me, sometimes you need feedback from you boss, a project manager or a client on how to proceed on a task. You might have a recommendation or preferred way you want to do it, but you need to clear it with that other person first. Here’s the problem: You might miss a deadline while waiting for a response from your busy boss, swamped project manager or overwhelmed client! Read on to learn a method for effectively combating this problem.

The way you’re doing it right now, your email might look something like this:

If John doesn’t get back to you with a definitive answer by Friday, you’re both in hot water! The technique to avoid this problem is called “SPA.” That stands for:

  • S = Summarize – Briefly summarize your understanding of the task, along with important background, details and due dates.
  • P = Plan – Identify your step-by-step plan of how you will accomplish the task, using your recommended or preferred solution.
  • A = AssumeAssume your understanding is correct and your plan is acceptable, unless you hear otherwise.

Here’s what the same email might look like using SPA:

Now all you have to do is wait for a reply. If you don’t get anything back, you simply continue as planned. Provided you gave the recipient enough time to review your information, you can move forward with a clear conscience, justification for your actions and proof you communicated it clearly.

Have fun using SPA to easily clarify assigned tasks without the constant worry of delayed feedback or approval!

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