I told a story to a room of people once upon a time. I felt the story was worth the telling and maybe even clever. As I finished the story, there was no response from anyone in the room, and everyone had a confused look on their face.
The facilitator of the meeting looked at me and asked why I looked so dejected.
“Did I leave something out?” I asked.
“It was a good story. The problem is that no one under 50 years of age is going to understand your references.”
I thought about my references. Mimeograph Machine? George Burns? Milton Berle? “Time to make the donuts”? I looked around the room.
Younger than 30.
The only person my age was the facilitator, and I realized that he was the only one that heard me because he was the only one that understood. Realizing that the rest of the room did not understand me and therefore did not hear me, probably stopped listening.
I shared this story this morning to a group of people, and they couldn’t connect with my old list of references either. Lost looks. Shrugging shoulders. Then I shared, “Hokey Pokey.” I could see the connection in their eyes.
The discussion that ensued was about connecting first, and then being heard. Know who we are talking with, and understanding what is obvious to us, may not be obvious to everyone. We talked about making eye contact, getting the groups attention, turning off our phones. You could hear a pin drop. I believe I was being understood, and therefore I was being heard.
Very nice! Agree. Never lose hope…