Lost in InterpretationDidst thou never hear
That things ill got had ever bad success?
And happy always was it for that son
Whose father for his hoarding went to hell?
I miss employment.
Communication can be many things, but one of the most commonly accepted definitions of communication according to Dictionary.com, is "the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, through speech, signals, writing, or behavior." One small. seemingly innocuous event, a simple introduction made me aware of just how finite verbal communication can be. Early in May of 2005 I was hired to work at a corporation, Redcliff Realty Management. This was a real job, the kind where people wear suits, where they actually pay you a decent amount, the 8:30 to 5 deal. My corporate naiveté and the assumption of my coworkers that I actually knew what I was doing, resulted in the awkward situation in question. Without a corporate frame of reference or a familiarity with "the lingo", I quickly became aware of just how important first impressions and more importantly, proper communication is in the work place.
My predecessor, Saleem had been spending the day with me, helping to familiarize me with the duties and responsibilities of the job. It was also his job to introduce me to my new co-workers. Redcliff RM is located in an office tower in downtown Toronto, with two floors worth of employees, I had a lot of people to meet. All the introductions had been going well, until I came to the north hallway of the twelfth floor. I followed him to the Julia's cubicle like a lamb to the slaughter. Julia was a thirty-something woman, and an executive assistant to several of the vice presidents at the company, a fact that I was unaware of prior to meeting her. After a brief introduction, Saleem and I were ready to continue our rounds. Just as we were about to leave Julia wanted to make sure she got something straight with me.
"Just so you know, I support John and Carol.", Julia said irritably.
Confused, I looked to Saleem for aid, but he just smiled unaware that I had no idea what she had just said. What did she mean by 'I support John and Carol'? Was something going on in the office that I didn't know about? Was it some sort of internal power struggle that would determine the course of my tenure with Redcliff? Was I being asked to choose a camp to support?! Frantically, I considered how I should respond.
"Uhhhh... ", I brilliantly started. "I don't want to get involved in any office politics." I finished with arched eye-brows.
Dumbfounded by what I had just said, I began to mentally punch myself in the face. As I finished the utterance I realized what she meant by "support". Apparently, it's not politically correct for someone to call themselves an assistant to someone else. 'I don't assist them, I support them!' Clarifying that fact for the new guy before he makes a complete fool of himself should be standard practice. After receiving a scowl from Julia that could only mean she thought I was a colossal moron, Saleem and I moved on to the next office. Abraham Lincoln was right when he said that it is "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." Thanks to this incident of misinterpretation my office interaction with Julia remained frigid at best for the remainder of the summer. All Julia had to do was say, 'Just so you know, I'm John and Carol's assistant.'
I believe my experience not only demonstrates the fragility of verbal communication and also how important first impressions can be. An expectation of understanding plays a key role in spoken communication, but when one party involved has no frame of reference for the subject being conveyed, misinterpretation can happen. Her expectation that I would understand what she meant, and my perspective being that I had no clue what she was talking about. Before one tries to communicate an idea or thought, it is important to gauge if what you are going to say will be understood by the parties involved. In this case there was a lapse of understanding, and the message being conveyed was misinterpreted.
Names have been changed so I don't get sued for slander or something.
Here's one of those interesting and sad/funny facts you discover when studying history. I was reviewing The Crusades, when I found a little blurb about the children's crusade.The Children's Crusade is a possibly fictitious or misinterpreted crusade of 1212. The story is that an outburst of the old popular enthusiasm led a gathering of children in France and Germany, which Pope Innocent III interpreted as a reproof from heaven to their unworthy elders. None of the children actually reached the Holy Land, being sold as slaves or dying of hunger during the journey.
That's some good Poping you dickhead! Poor bastards.