Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Did you hear me?

I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” is a simply great quotation - apparently credited to Richard M. Nixon.

This seems to have a synchronicity of its own in the week of Thanksgiving as I had a similar gift from a colleague skyping me from a presumably sunny LA in the week. He opened the conversation with an enquiry as to whether I was currently "deluged". 

As I have been extremely busy, and was three quarters of the way through my day, as he was just beginning his with, no doubt freshly squeezed oranges from the garden, I launched into an explanation of just-how-busy-it-had-been-with-last-minute-budget-realisation-for-clients, with lots of demand for work to be completed in Quarter 4 and delivered before Christmas, and then, like a complete idiot, continued with a brief outline of what Quarter 1 was looking like for 2010...

...and then he explained that what he actually meant was - "how is the weather". After the reporting of all the flooding, it's a perfectly reasonable question, even though the floods were (sadly) in Cumbria and I am in London, I do know how, once in the US, Africa or Australia, the geography of the UK kind of shrinks to something the size of the M25.

Then last week, my colleague and I were running a workshop and explaining how to collect and organise lots of information for planning a presentation. One of the activities we use to illustrate is a theoretical "how to make £100 today" - collecting lots of ideas from the group to a flipchart and then organising it into cateogories and sub-sets.

Usually a straighforward-enough activity, we got ourselves hilariously hooked on a prong of language when someone in the group suggest "pawn" and it was heard by someone else - for whom English is not first language as "porn" - which could indeed be a way of making £100 in one day - but wasn't quite what we had in mind. Big points for creative thinking though.

So - twice in one week - I have believed you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

Now I am wondering what that coincidence is telling me - I may have more in common with Nixon than I would feel comfortable with.

So - I intend to live in the question for a while...Did you hear me?

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