Unique Perspectives

By Crystal Wilson


You gave a very specific instruction. And 3 different people who received that instruction did…. Exactly not what you said. 


How many times has this happened to you?  


Maybe you’ve also experienced the reverse situation, where you were certain that you were doing exactly what you were asked to, and somehow you wound up completely missing the mark. 


I’ve seen this happen over and over again, experiencing it from both sides and in personal and professional settings.  


Recently, a perfect example of this showed up in our team.  Our team members organized a virtual “Show and Tell” and everyone received this invitation:

Virtual Show and Tell Invitation Graphic

 The keyword in this instance is “Unique.” 


We had 9 people on the call, and multiple interpretations of what was to be presented.  


Some of us thought “hmmm...Unique.  Ok, what is something that is really special to me?”


Others thought “Unique - cool.  What do I have that no one else would have?”


Still others took it as an opportunity to “out -weird” one another, and others completely missed that the word “unique” was even in the invitation.  When asked, it turned out that the two organizers actually also had different ideas about what the “unique” instruction would result in! 


None of these interpretations reduced the fun of the event or were inherently wrong, but we must remember the context.  Similar differences in interpretation and attention can cause quite the kerfuffle when applied to the workplace. 


Instructions like;


“Please follow up with this client”
“This position allows for a flexible schedule”
“We will work within your budget” 


And so many others can lead to disappointing results without further specification being given.  Try giving a little more qualification to your statements, and the likelihood of confusion, resentment and disappointment diminished at an astonishing rate!  


“Please follow up with this client via email by x date and please copy me.” 
“This position allows for a flexible schedule. Here are the parameters and expectations.”
“If we are a good match to work together, we will be able to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.”  


Are all likely to get you closer to the results you are looking for.