Sunday, February 26, 2012

“What is a centerfold?”

The national park ranger leading the tour of the Thomas Edison estate described the vestibule painting as very expensive, risqué and the equivalent of today’s centerfold hung in a family gathering area. As he shared other noteworthy points and concluded his comments, he asked if there were any questions. The little boy in the front of the crowd asked, “What is a centerfold?” It was humorous to see the ranger’s reaction and how fast the boy’s mother said she would explain it to him in the car.

That witty exchange made me think of the many times we as leaders say things that we think are being understood, but really are not. This is particularly acute on the international stage. Sport analogies are the most common. Push it over the goal line. In the red zone. Hook slide. Slam dunk. In the chucks. They are endless, but what if the people you are talking to do not share the same enthusiasm for sport that you do? Do you take the time to ensure the things you say have enough flavor to be interesting but also understood?

What types of communication issues have you experienced and how have you solved them?

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