Ola! My husband and I recently returned from sunny Puerto Rico where we enjoyed a welcomed week's vacation. A lovely, quiet beach helped provide my current, fleeting tan.
Now, I love the beach and this one was ideal: easy access, soft sand, combed and clean, warm water, palms in the background and never more than 4 other humans as far as we could see.
I asked our host where all the folks were (this is high season) and he said: "Well, it's winter. The water is cold and Puerto Ricans don't go to the beach in February".
The water is cold? It was 80 degrees and I was enjoying a tropical paradise. Yet for the locals, their idea of a welcome day outdoors did not include winter sunning. Same set of circumstances, viewed through a different perspective resulted in a different reality, different choices and possibilities.
It happens every day: we encounter a situation and interpret its meaning, relative opportunity, challenge or value with the lenses of our personal experience and expectation. What happens if your colleague or employee interprets the same set of experiences utterly differently than you do (I think it's a warm getaway; you think it's too cold to lay on the beach)? What if it's your business partner? A customer or supplier?
Most likely each of you will come to different conclusions, make choices possibly at odds with each other, and, could be, you'll fight about it afterwards.
Best way to ensure this doesn't happen to you? Use some simple techniques so you and the other guy or gal are on the 'same page' when it's time to take actions: Mirror, summarize, ask for examples, amplify, use stories to clarify. Any of these tools will make sure all parties to an event or discussion will have the same frame of reference from which to draw conclusions and make subsequent choices. Above all, don't assume your requests or discussion were utterly clear unless all parties affirmed their respective understandings.
So next time I tell you I'm going on vacation you'll know I want sun tan lotion and pina coladas; not skis and parkas....