Lesson 33: Always have a pen/pencil and notepad on you

You never know when important things are going to happen.  No matter how good you think your memory is, it is never a bad idea to always have writing material available.  For certain military occupational specialties, it is even mandatory.  Regardless of whether you are working security, policing, mechanical, administrative, etc., there is no reason not to carry a pen, pencil, and paper.  In fact, the military even took these things into consideration long before you enlisted.  There are plenty of pockets available for notebooks, and there are even pockets that are specifically designed for the carrying of writing utensils.  This is not a principle that I would call “common sense” because, lets face it, you don’t see a lot of these items being carried around as often as they used to.

Having a writing utensil and notepad on you always serves a variety of functions, some of which you might never have considered.  The most obvious of which is the ability to take notes or write things down that you will need to know or consider later.  That is the initial intended purpose and is often the end of it.  But think about it.  The seemingly obvious might not be so obvious.  You don’t need battery power to operate a pencil and paper.  They are available in forms that are small enough to be convenient.  They are much cheaper and more easily replaceable if damaged.  There is virtually no concern if they fall out of your pocket or purse.  The benefits are much more plentiful than you might initially assume.  Another, and in my opinion, among the more important, they make you look and feel much more intelligent and professional.

If someone pulls their phone out while you are talking to them, what is usually your first thought?  I will tell you what mine is.  I immediately assume that they are not listening, don’t care enough to give me their full attention, and are easily distracted or in search of distraction.  I know that making assumptions is not the best practice, but I also know that I cannot possibly be the only person that feels that way when someone pulls out their cell phone while we are talking.  Even if they are taking notes or entering a reminder regarding something I am saying, there is just something about a cell phone that, to me, and I am sure to others, indicates distraction and less attention.  I don’t mean to be a prude, or old fashion.  I believe that there are certain acceptable principles in conversation and, unless it is an emergency or agreed upon usage, there is really no place in a face-to-face conversation for a cell phone.            

Now take that same scenario, you are engaging in a conversation with someone, and they pull out a pen and notepad.  What are you thinking now?  Again, I will tell you what I am thinking.  This person must really care about what I am saying.  An innocent joke may arise from the semi-archaic action of using a writing utensil and paper, but the action is much more appreciated.  This person clearly cares.  It doesn’t matter if it is actual interest in what I am saying, or just a gesture to make me think that they care.  The fact that they are putting forward the effort on either account makes me appreciate them as a person and conversationalist.  I also know that I am dealing with someone that is intelligent enough to know that not everyone has a stellar memory and that taking notes is a great way to remember important things later.

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