I was in Kalgoorlie last week and the begining of this week for business and I had never been there before, so of course I wanted to see at least some of the sights. Firstly I thought “Kal” as it is called, (see I’m getting the lingo) was a small town and I was suprised at just how big it was and how many people are there. My perception from descriptions I had heard I guess.
Let me ask you a question here first, have you ever described something to someone in what you believe are simple terms? In a way that you are sure they can see exactly what you mean? That they really understand what you have told them and they were on the same page? I know I have.
I am laughing already thinking about my experience in Kalgoorlie.
The Superpit is famous in Kal, it is a huge and I mean “HUGE” Pit that is kilometers deep and wide. I was given the following directions “drive along Hannan’s street towards Boulder” sounds easy enough given Hannan street is the main street in Kal and everything kind of runs off that. “You will see signs for the look out, you cant miss it, its a huge pit and you will see mounds of earth, it almost encroches on the town” Simple right? I thought so and I had in my head that this was easy. So off I go, this little Irish girl driving down Hannan’s street. I followed the signs to Boulder right? Can’t go wrong, I was going to see this huge Super Pit anyway right?
I drove and drove, came to Boulder (nice little town with a fab lollie shop) however still no sign of the Super Pit!!! I kept driving all the while keeping an eye on any land marks in case I had to come back this way. (yep I was a good little girl guide)
Then I came to a sign that said Hannan street???? Only to realise I had driven around in a circle.
Next day I told my collegues that I had managed to lose find the SuperPit… to their amusement of course. (Kal was bigger than I thought but it wasn’t that big!)
Admist the questions like “did ya see the mounds of earth all around you?” and “where did you go?” and of course “how could you miss it” It was discovered that you can go to Boulder from both ends of Hannan Street and of course I had gone the “wrong” end (no one told ME that)
What struck me about this experience was that in all good faith my collegue gave me directions as he understood them. I took them as they filterd into my head as I though was ok. Neither of us checkin in with the other one with some questions like ” so I turn left on Hannans Street?” Or “how long should it take me to get there?” Or maybe even “is it past the airport?” (which I now know is the wrong way)
Why do we not clarify with others? What do we just nod and say “yeah, yeah I got it?” Or “I see what you mean?”
I believe it is a couple of things and one of them is we dont want to appear stupid so we go with half the details and work it out as we go, often leading to more stress or failure, or even worse we dont try because we fear we may fail.
The other is that we Perceive we know what they are talking about, we have our spin on it and that is fine with us.
I am fine with this sometimes as I like a bit of adventure and variety so not knowing the next exact step is a challenge to me. However there are times in business and particularly when you are a leader in business that you MUST make sure the other person has a clear picture of the plan, of the vision and what is expected of them. Allowing someone to go off with only their perception on things can lead to confusion later. Perception is reality for everyone.
There is no Reality it is all just a group of individual perceptions.
Until next time