August 11, 2010

the art of communication

back way when i was at university, i remember one single time while i was studying for a very important exam and realized that one particular question was constructed in a wrong way. i mean, literally.

i was both working in a full time job and trying to finish the school, so i didn't have the chance to attend all the classes. and therefore, i had to rely on the xerox of the notes other students took. to my surprise, nobody seemed to realize the mistake. what the teacher intented to ask and what she actually asked were different. and don't get me wrong, it was all in Turkish, in Turkey, where all the students were Turks.

the thing is, everybody knew what the teacher intended to ask. so nobody cared how she asked it. all they needed was the numbers given in the question so that they could immediatly start solving in the way they had already memorized.

just half an hour ago, i got an email from our client. and the mail made no sense at all. if i had taken  it literally, i should have started doing something in the completely opposite way i was supposed to do.
the good thing is, i know her for years so i can sort of estimate what she really means. so what she actually wrote didnt matter.

funny thing is, we had a similar conservation with my wife just last night. and she told me about a meeting they had with their clients. and at some point, the clients spotted a mistake which turned out to be their own fault because they messed up the mails. but while we were talking at supper yesterday, my wife said that "i should have guessed that there was a mistake because it said blah blah but in fact it was supposed to be blah blah." yeah, right. because she is some sort of a witch and she has to understand what the client actually wants even if they send the wrong mail.


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