Native Speakers

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I spent ten days working with two different clients, a big architecture-engineering firm and a small college. Hung out with fun people, worked with my pal Jenny as we have every summer for the past seven, and was grateful to get home after about 1500 miles of driving over two weeks.

It was surprisingly fun working with the engineering company. They were doing a two-day session on project management practices, focusing on the PM software they use, budgeting practices, on and on, all the technical stuff that just flows right into their bloodstream. And then I show up as the lunch theater on Thursday, doing my gig from noon to two, and it was a blast. It was like bringing the rock band to the senior center… at first they didn’t know what to do with it, but by the end, everybody was laser-locked onto me and it was pretty great. I heard a ton of great comments over dinner that night.

And what was fascinating was that almost every person who said that the presentation had been terrific used a different part of it as their evidence. Over the course of two hours, each person had captured one unique thing as the heart of the work, something that made contact with a particular open circuit at a particular moment, completely accurate to what I had done but completely idiosyncratic in what they received.

I think most of life is that way. What you say is not exactly what I hear. What I do is not exactly what you see. Even underlying attitude can be read differently by different observers. For one, it’s confident; for another, it’s cocky. For one, it’s humble; for another, it’s weak. For one, it’s thorough; for another, it’s tedious. What a miracle, then, when we can find friends who describe the world in familiar vocabulary. When we can relax and speak in the vernacular.