At what point does “uncomfortable” get you in trouble?
A Mexican TV reporter was preparing to interview New York Jets quarterback, Mark Sanchez, yet felt uncomfortable enough during her wait in the locker room to make this vague claim via Twitter. This issue has set off quite a bit of castigating while resurrecting some old controversy about women reporters in men’s locker rooms.
The real life issue here is that the word “uncomfortable” is vague and has immensely varied opinions as to when it becomes an actionable offense?
When was the last time you met someone that was “in your space,” “stepped over the line,” or as a Seinfeld episode would refer to as being a “close talker”?
If you really think about it, the interpretations vary from person to person. Just where is, “your space,” “your line” and how close is “too close”?
I love when listening to a group of friends discuss how, “That guy was weird (or uncomfortable)!”
I chime in by asking, “What was weird?”
The answer inevitably is, “It was just weird.”
But, I keep plugging away till I get a very concise and specific answer.
The clearly defined answer is often very entertaining…
“He stared into my eyes for too long”
“He smiled when he wasn’t supposed to”
“He interrupted before I was done talking”
“He talked to loud” (Well, heck! You were in a bar, what do you expect?)
“He talked about himself the whole time”
“He was too smooth”
How often are we vague about the comments or requests we make of others?
Do we tend to take people for granted that they should know what we are talking about?
If you’re not sure what I mean here, you can determine a “clear message” by how often you don’t get the right results from your communication.
Does it end in frustration, or with the exclamation, “They just don’t get it!”?
Sure, you can blame it on the other person, but it is up to you to identify how the recipient of your information needs to understand the true meaning.
If someone is deaf, you learn to speak louder!
If someone is into numbers, your comments should have well defined and finite responses.
If someone is creative and “artsy,” your conversations can be fluffy and abstract.
If one speaks softly, don’t chatter like you’re on a noisy, New York subway.
If they speak slowly, you may think twice about getting jacked-up on that cup of espresso
In professional sports, it is vital to a successful outcome that every coach is very clear about their ideas, thoughts and feelings. A good coach is one that understands how each player “gets it.” As he or she knows that each member of the team processes the same information differently. It is up to that teacher, mentor and leader to be unambiguous and succinct, just as it is imperative for you when engaging in an important relationship – personal and professional.
So, here’s to clarity and purposeful communication…
Now, go out there and use your new exam to diagnose “weirdness” and see if you can render treatment with the right dose of precision dialogue.
And PLEASE pass this off to someone who really needs it! Be better than well, be at peak performance.