A word about communication, taking references for granted, and being understood, by our colleague Elena Paraskevas-Thadani (She/Her)

I was in the passenger seat, guiding my ‘learners permit holding 16-year old‘, proceeding at a steady speed. The light ahead turned yellow. To stop or proceed? “Step on it!” I said.

My daughter slammed on the brake. We stopped violently with a screech and lurched forward in our seats. “What did you do that for?” I asked surprised. “I stepped on it like you told me to,” she replied defensively.

“How could you not know that “step on it” means to step on the GAS, not the BRAKE!” I asked. But she simply didn’t. I can’t even recall where I myself learned that “step on it” meant “gas,” an expression whose meaning I took for granted since childhood. And how could she have known what I meant if she didn’t have the same experiences and exposures as I did?

Sometimes when you are leading, you may have a different frame of reference from your teammate. It might be cultural. Generational. A different interpretation or approach. It is important to check-in and recalibrate. Are we understanding each other? Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. And we don’t know what they don’t know. We take our experience own for granted.

There might be bumps in the road. As long as we communicate, we can drive on. Ultimately, we have the same goal, to safely move forward and reach our destination.