Sunday, September 8, 2013

What We Have Heah ...

     The art of communication has always fascinated me. My wife has been working recently with someone who is soon to appear on the QVC network to promote a product he has invented. She has been helping him improve the way he presents the information about that product and the way he presents himself to a camera and an audience. She's exceptionally skilled at that kind of work and you should seek her out if you need similar services.
     I like to think I don't need her services because I'm fairly comfortable with public speaking, having spent most of my adult life in the broadcast industry.  And yet I still come across situations where I present  what I believe to be clear and concise information which is, ultimately, misinterpreted or misunderstood.  And, in my experience, the misinterpretation usually comes from a female. This is not misogyny; it's reality.
      I have also been on the receiving end of information that the women around me understand immediately, but which confuses me.  Maybe I'm slow on the uptake, but I believe it's just that I'm a member of the male of the species.
     Some years ago, my wife and I had finished our meal at a dining establishment, and I was getting ready to leave when she proclaimed, "We can't leave. We're next to the salad bar."  I was absolutely befuddled because the salad bar was not blocking the exit and, therefore, not preventing us from leaving.  When I told the story to a female friend, she immediately figured out what I could not. The reason we couldn't leave was because the waitress had not yet come by to pick up her tip, and because we were by the salad bar, some scoundrel getting bean sprouts might steal the tip money from the table, leaving the waitress to think we were cheapskates.
       There have been volumes written on the differences between the way males and females communicate, and I've read much of that material, but I still can't make that intuitive leap that women seem to make. I talk in concrete terms and find myself getting frustrated when I can't make someone understand things that are bleeding obvious to me. Like how to get from Point A to Point B. The example once again involves my wife, who in spite of her great intelligence, claims to be incapable of figuring out which way is north, south, east or west.  
       She cannot, she says, look at a map and then translate the lines on the map to the road in front of us.  This became apparent when we took a vacation trip in the days before GPS. I was driving and she was navigating. As I came up to an intersection on the route, I asked her to tell me which way to turn, and she said, "I don't know." I said, "How can you NOT know?  You're looking right at the map!" Soon after, we decided that she would drive and I would navigate, so that we could actually arrive at our destination in a timely fashion. 
     As I say, my wife is really smart. There's no logical reason that she shouldn't be able to read a map, but she can't. Like many women, she uses landmarks, rather than street names and compass directions to get where she needs to go. Don't tell her to turn north on Main Street; tell her to turn right or left on the road by the billboard with the big hamburger ad on it.
     Fortunately, what she focuses on with her clients is not map-reading, but relaxing and relaying information in an interesting and entertaining fashion. I'm in awe when I watch her natural charisma capture an audience in a way that I never could. She's done wonders improving the presentation skills of the future QVC'er. And, one day, she may even be able to tell him how to get to Carnegie Hall.