Saying the Same Thing? Words versus Intent.
A few weeks ago, I had this discussion with a friend. I said “…and stop saying we’re both saying the same thing.” The response was, “I’m just trying to show common ground.” I shot back, “No when you say that, it’s you trying to prove your point putting my statement into your frame of reference. It feels like you are ignoring what I’m saying.” The response back to me was, “ahhhh, I had no idea.” Then something occurred at breakfast that illustrated my point. My glass of juice was half full and I realized some people would describe my glass as half empty. I was stunned. Yes, both descriptions are true, we are both literally saying the same thing. However, the meaning is very different to the extent of being philosophically opposite. Wow, what a shift in perspective. I had an upcoming meeting that exhausted me just to think about it. We discussed the same thing, the exact same thing at every meeting. This had gone on for five weeks with no progress. Must we have the same discussion yet again? UUUUUGGGHHHHHH. Every time we met, the client team didn’t seem to understand my plan was to do what they asked for. Then it hit me, we are both saying the same thing, but, the reasons why were different. The client team wanted to change the expense reimbursement process because it was cumbersome for employees to record and detail expenses. “Why can’t they just take a photo of the receipt and do something from their phones as they go?” My team’s plan was to streamline the process because of redundancies. We had eight systems doing the same thing which was costly to maintain and update. We both wanted change, we both said the system needed to change, but we were not really saying the same thing. I thought yes, we can get your requirements in the new solution but saying, we’re both saying the same thing was just wrong. I can own it. I was actually saying multiple systems costs to much to update and maintain. The other group was expressing the need to simplify a process. That didn’t mean the same solution wouldn’t work for both, it absolutely can. But through out the discourse on this subject, I never really understood the impact the system had on the employee. I never expressed employee inconvenience as an issue the solution needed to address. I went to the meeting with a new attitude. I started by saying to the client team, “We needed to make the reimbursement process less cumbersome for the employee, what are your top three priorities?” There was such a difference. I realized while in my mind, we both said the process needs to change and literally we were both saying the same thing, the meaning between the two was just as different as the glass half full and the glass half empty. “We’re both saying the same thing,” is no longer a habit to break or a phrase to refrain from saying, but a reminder to understand and express intent. What am I going to do now? Well, my glass is half full. I’m going to enjoy the rest of my organic fresh squeezed orange juice for the next fifteen minutes before I start my day.