First Job: Interview - Communications (3) (工作)
first published on rolia.net, 2010-5-13
My first post on communications obviously impressed this lady because she said: "I would increase your salary/rate 1 cent, so you'll get $15.01/hr starting first week of June." With gratitude, I went to find out who she is. Looks like she is indeed a boss as she worries about people who might cause her startup to fail. She calls one such type "拜大爷，拜vendor做大爷，一级vendor拜不上，拜二级，不过绝不拜小公司或个人合同工". Then she said: "我跟着市场伏伏沉沉，当过各级vendor和独立consultant，体验过各种对应的不同的对待。" In an effort to pay back her generous offer of 1 cent, I'd like to devote my 3rd installment on communications to the kind of mistakes she made here.
If you drive, you'd know the huge difference between a clean windshield and one covered by rain or slush. One common problem in communications is to NOT make our message clear, like leaving our windshield dirty. Obviously, nobody does this on purpose. But for many reasons, we do it all the time.
In one short sentence, the 1 cent lady made 3 such mistakes.
First, she said she went through the ups and downs with the market. Sounds like she's talking about the stock market. Or is it about product life cycles? Or the economy? Or the industry she works in? Without her wiping the windshield clean, we're not sure.
Second, she said she worked as different levels of vendors and independent consultant. At first I thought she worked as vendors. Here the windshield is definitely a little dirty. It's much better if she says "I worked as a consultant for different levels of vendors as well as independently". Now the windshield is squeaky clean.
Lastly, she said she "experienced various corresponding different treatments". Honestly, I have no idea what she's talking about here - now the windshield is completely covered by slush.
Why do we not make our messages clear? Maybe our thinking isn't clear to begin with. Maybe we're sloppy in our presentation. I bet the 1 cent lady's mind was very messy when she said "体验过各种对应的不同的对待". Her mind wasn't clear either with "跟着市场伏伏沉沉". "当过各级vendor和独立consultant" is a case of being sloppy.
One common reason why our messages are not clear is that we omitted a few words, due to either laziness or the desire to be concise. For example, on Rolia's 北美投资论坛, when someone asked if she should sell a particular stock, one guy said: "I would just hold patiently, it very nicely just out and I didn't see the fish body yet." He probably knows what he's talking about by "it very nicely just out", but we don't, because he omitted some words there. On Rolia's dating board 众里寻他(她), one guy said "if you are staying marriage or sex , pls don't reply". I believe the guy knows what he needs but the message is a little puzzling, probably also due to a few missing words.
You might feel that you're way better than these people, including the 1 cent lady. However, even though you clean your windshield in rain or snow, you may leave it dirty in normal times, without even knowing it. Have you ever wondered why one guy is much easier to understand than another, even though both seem to speak clearly? The answer is probably that the first guy lays everything on the table while the second guy doesn't. Very often we don't say things that we feel are obvious. But the problem is, most people are passive listeners - they don't think much when listening. If you don't say it, they don't see it, although it's something obvious.
When you ask your boss for a raise, you give him every reason you can think of, whether they're obvious or not. The more reason you give him, the stronger your argument. What if you don't give him a reason, thinking everything is so obvious? He'll probably just ignore you.
The other day, when someone on Rolia translated "Halifax" to "汉里饭可吃", I replied: "汉里饭可吃"？翻的也太差了吧？应该是"蛤蛎发壳死"。 My message is certainly clear, but it's also dull and a little bit unobvious. Later I changed it to: "汉里饭可吃"？翻的也太差了吧？哪里有"汉"字？哪里有"饭""吃"？应该是"蛤蛎发壳死". Here I added two facts which you could argue are obvious. However, a lot of people probably don't bother to pick up these "obvious" facts themselves. You don't say it, they don't see it. To them, your windshield is foggy even though they could still see you.
Making ourselves clear is very important in communications. First we need to think clearly. Next we need to make an effort to avoid being sloppy. Then we need to use enough words so they don't have to guess what we mean. Finally, we need to add enough meat to the bone so they see a live person instead of a skeleton.