I am learning a lot from my 7-year-old and not just the routine stuff like how to get red crayon stains out of an entire load of laundry. Some of it pertains to sales techniques. How do people process new information? What extrapolations do they make? What erroneous assumptions do they make that seems perfectly clear on the face of it but is often misunderstood? How do I make sure the listener is receiving my message as intended?
My little one bought into my explanation, “eat vegetables to grow tall and strong.” TWO days later though he changed course and said he was done eating them. He stated he does not want to be so tall that his head hits the ceiling. My lesson and my mistake: I left a void in the explanation (you will stop growing at about 6 feet) and he then extrapolated my message which led to the misunderstanding.
Last week he asked me how many hours is it from 8 am today to 8 am tomorrow (the basis here is he doesn’t like to wake up for school.) He was perplexed when I said 24. Upon questioning, I found he previously learned there are 24 “hours in a day” so his assumption was that we add the 24 daylight hours to the night hours for the sum and answer. My false assumption was that he understood the basic verbiage and concept.
Amused and going over this afterwards, I realized that often times when selling (which is akin to teaching in many respects) the salesperson will make assumptions about the listener that are false. And sometimes an explanation, while seeming complete, might be heard as a partial explanation. Then the erroneous extrapolations follow. So go the extra step, clarify what seems obvious, and make sure verbiage that seems clear is actually understood as intended. What seem like common understandings or concepts often need to be explained. In my son’s case, this can save me a lengthy re-teaching. In my professional life, it might keep my “listeners” from walking down the road scratching their heads.
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