A Stuttering Drop of Ink

The best way I can put this is with a drop of ink. Let’s say red. A cup of water. You know what happens. The ink goes in the water, the water changes color. All of it. Is it what I wanted?

I had to talk to one of the senior guys at the company today about some lists. I had a few really quick questions. We went through it, I didn’t stutter much. No big deal. But then I was really curious about something. And I wanted to ask him. So I did.

It was a total mess. Totally incoherent, got stuck on almost every word, he looked at me patiently, finished maybe one or two words (I really didn’t mind at that point).

Did I say what I wanted to say? Definitely not. Did I communicate what I wanted to? Sort of maybe?

It’s like the drop of ink. You should take the drop and use it in a pen. Write words. Draw a sketch.

The drop or blob of ink was shoved out. It was sent out in the hope that it could be understood even though it didn’t have the right pen or brush. Actually, you know what? It ended up being like that thing you do in elementary school where you drop ink all over the place and then blow it with a straw to make a tree. Except you wanted to draw a flaming truck powered by rockets jumping over the Grand Canyon.

After a few stuck phrases, he got up and started diagramming on a white board, “I think I know what you’re asking for.” And he did. Was I grateful? Very much so. But was it a success?

It’s hard to say. Yes? The thing is, I didn’t have to ask him that question (or try to). I probably should have been better prepared. I probably should have taken a deeper breath up front, or maybe stood up, or had something on paper to reference.

Then there’s the whole finishing-your-sentences aspect. He didn’t just do that, put he finished entire thoughts. Took a few keywords, squinted, and started drawing on the white board. Is that a win? He didn’t just dismiss me and tell me to figure out what I wanted to say. Or send him an e-mail. Or ask someone else. So there’s an element of respect, too.

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