As a Boy Scout leader, one of the funnest games we would play is something called “Tell it like it isn’t.” I would get all the boys, put them in a circle, tell them a story. I would intentionally make up a funny or creative story (Surprising right?). The boys would tell each other the story, they could not repeat it or ask for explanation. all along the way, you could visibly see the story getting more and more odd based on the expressions of the boys who were hearing the story from their friend, almost like, “Did they really say that?” By the time it got to the end of the line, you generally would not get anything close to the same story. Too often we hear things or read emails and we are confused by it, but we don’t want to ask for clarification because of a number of reasons. What if what I think they said is true? What if they think I am stupid? What if they get mad I had them repeat it? Do any of these ring true?
If you are to communicate completely with other people, when you are not positive what you heard is true, it is important to ask them to clarify.
This actually happened today. A friend from out of town was staying with us overnight because she wanted to come early to volunteer for the Journey Training, so we had her sleep over. At dinner the next night, she made comment about Noell and I engaging in extracurricular activities at 6am this morning. (Technically termed Coitus) I asked “What are you talking about?” She told me, “I heard Noell say ‘O Arthur, O Arthur’ early this morning.”
I was horrified, “What?” There is no way that happened, and I would know. (Now if you have a smokin’ hot wife like Noell, you would know that I have no problem with that activity, I was just horrified that a guest would hear that)
I immediately got with Noell, and we started really thinking about this morning. Then I remembered what had happened last night. I remembered, that I had a meeting with Thrive15 at 6:30 this morning, and I was asked to deliver some Chicken Minis from Chick-fil-A. (I have heard them called our yummy Crack laced Breakfast Chicken) Well I thought I would go above, make it huge, and pick up some special donuts. Noell was supposed to order them for me. Sadly, they give us the frequent flyer discount at the donut store, and have a personal ring tone for my wife. I got up at 5:30, got ready, and at 6:05, I kissed my wife goodbye and asked her if she ordered the donuts. She snapped out of bed, flung the covers off, and shouted “O Arthur! O Arthur!” Then, more quietly, “I am so sorry.”
Meanwhile our friend all day carried around the thought of a very awkward moment of what she heard. All she heard was coming out of my room, Noell yelling, while being compassionate, “O Arthur,” with a sense of sorrow in her voice due to what she forgot.
Was either one wrong? Not necessarily. She connected some dots based on what she heard. This is actually something that our brain does naturally.
Can you think of a time that you heard the wrong thing, and then went the wrong direction with it?
I have done it sadly, multiple times.
Its quite natural, but it’s what you do with it afterwords that will make the difference.