Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Importance of Speaking the Right Language

Business, often teaches MBAs to speak the right language; a language that the CEOs, stakeholders, and target audience can easily understand. In fact, one of my favorite courses at Rotman taught me to present my case (or, point of view) in a clear, compelling, and memorable way. A recent personal experience shed a whole lot of clarity on why speaking the right language is absolutely crucial.

My eye-sight check up was long overdue. My family doctor recommended an optometrist in downtown San Francisco.

On January 27th, I visited my optometrist, who was housed in quaint little place in San Francisco. As I waited for my appointment, I could not help notice that all the optometrists were in the age range 50+.

I thought,"Great! experienced optometrists...this is nice!".

Time for my appointment: The doctor (let's call him - jabber) escorted me to his exam room. Jabber sounded friendly.

Jabber: "Hi Shalu, let me ask you something: why brings you in today".
Shalu (thinks): Great! I like people who get to the point right away. This visit will be a breeze.
Shalu (Replies): "Oh, when I play Rockband on Wii, my eyes become watery. So, I was wondering whether my eye sight has changed".

Jabber: "Ah! Not a problem at all. I see people like you come in every day".
Shalu (thinks): really? I guess a lot of people must play Rockband..
Shalu (replies): "Oh?"
Jabber: "Which instrument do you play?"
Shalu (thinks): Weird question..but whatever, he is the doctor.
Shalu (replies): "Sometimes I play drums and sometimes I sing".
Jabber: "Oh I see...you know, I get people like yourself from San Francisco Orchestra/Symphony all the time".
Shalu (thinks): Huh?
Jabber continuing: "And, the problem is that when people perform under bright lights and they are on stage, they can get headaches and their pupils dilate as well. It is very common. You should put some eye-drops before going on stage and under bright light. I would even use the drops back stage"...jabber continued for 10 minutes and discussed the importance of wearing eye drops before performing.
Shalu (thinks): WHAT! Does he think I am a musician?

The optometrist was one of those people, who are really hard to interrupt in a conversation. I tried a few times, but failed. The conversation happened while he was testing my eyes with his fancy eye equipment. In turned out that my number had a minute increase. Finally, I got a chance to interrupt him.

Shalu (frantically trying to get her point across): "Wait! I want to clarify something - when I say, I play Rockband on my Wii, I mean at home. I hope you understand what I am saying".
Jabber: "Of course! I do..I am going to give you these eye-drops, which you should wear before you go on-stage next time and use them back stage as well....just one drop and you'll be as good as new". He then continues for another 5 minutes about bright lights, musicians, and stage performances and how all these things affect light.
Shalu (thinks): Oh God! this is ridiculous.
Shalu (replies): "Yes, I understand..now do I need to wear these drops when I am not performing?"
Jabber: "Oh no...just wear them before you go on stage".
Shalu (replies): "Thank you! It was an enlightening visit".

I bet the optometrist did not know what a Rockband, or a Wii was. He must have thought that I was being modest and therefore, did not give him much information about my shows. Most importantly, he thought I played in a band!

And, I agree with my friend Komal, who says,"This has to be the joke of the decade!" :)

The silly conversation could have been prevented had I started with,"Oh, when I play the game Rockband on my gaming system, Wii, I get watery eyes"..

Alas! The choice of words is absolutely necessary. But, for about 30 minutes, I got to live the dream of being a lead singer and drummer in San Francisco's Orchestra! :)

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