I had an interesting conversation with a young grocery store Check Out Clerk the other day. It went something like this:
Clerk picks up bag with produce item, puts on scale and gets puzzled look on her face: “Do you know how much these turnips are?”
Me (with a teeny, weeny smile tugging at the corners of my mouth): “Um…..no, I don’t and ummm….they are beets”.
I was a little surprised. As a former farm girl, I found it hard to believe that someone could mistake a beet for a turnip.
After returning home I posted the exchange on my facebook page and received mixed feedback. I thought the comment would elicit waves of giggles out of everyone. That wasn’t the case. Not everyone agreed with my assumption that the Clerk would/should know the difference between a turnip and a beet. One friend did take the opportunity to share a similar story though. She posted, “Once I went through the till with balls of suet for the birds. The poor thing (clerk) wondered how to cook it and was it good??? I told her the birds seemed to like it and I served it raw....”
But I digress (I love, love to digress….have you noticed?)
As I was saying, not everyone agreed with my assumption that the Clerk would/should know the difference. So I decided to write about it…..this thing called “assumptions”.
How many of us make judgment calls based on the notion that if something is common knowledge to us, then it must be common knowledge to EVERYONE?
Tasks and terminology that are of second nature to us, must be second nature to those around us, especially if they are in the same industry? Right?
How many of us have been in a conversation with colleagues and not had a clue what the flurry of acronyms meant…only to Google search it later. Think of how much more we could have contributed to the conversation had we known what they heck they were talking about.
Is there a lesson in this? Yes, I think so:
- · Don’t judge those who don’t understand what you are saying…it could be a generational gap causing the confusion.
- Don’t use an acronym in a document or a conversation without using its entirety at least once, i.e. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
- · Do ask questions and don’t feel silly asking them. It is up to you to speak up – no one knows that you don’t understand and if you don't understand, you cannot be an active participant.