Secret Handshake

March 3, 2010

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

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My husband and I went on our Saturday night date night on Monday night because we would not be together on Saturday night since I’ll be in Colorado for the Free Agent Academy intensive (affiliate link).  


So we went out to dinner at an upscale, trendy restaurant known for their steak and sushi.  No disrespect to my vegan daughter and vegetarian friends; but I do enjoy steak, porterhouse specifically. 


This place really is trendy.  The last time we were there, a “fav” car of mine, a Bentley, was parked prominently right in front.   


The bar always seemed to have “beautiful people”, all seemingly having a great time. Trendy.  


We sat down in a lovely booth and began to chat and enjoy each other’s company.  It is amazing that after 31 years, we still have things to talk about.  Sure we have our silent moments, too, but every now and again we have something new to chat it up about, and we do.  


As we chatted, our server came over to tell us the specials of the night, and I listened attentively.  YES, porterhouse was on the menu, and I was due for a nice treat, so porterhouse for me.  My hubby was happy that his favorite, fillet of Dover sole, was on the menu and that, along with a baked potato, would make his dinner special.


At the last moment I decided to order a sushi appetizer.  I was in the mood for shrimp and saw their menu offered an interesting array of sushi with the term in and out in front of each description.  So I spotted something that looked great to me, a shrimp roll with cucumber.  Yes that was ‘in’ and so I ordered it.


When the app arrived, I noticed some red fish filleted on top of the sushi.  Hmmmm, I said to the server, what’s this, and she said tuna.  The outside of the sushi roll had tuna and avocado.  Oh, that’s what it meant on your menu when it said ‘In’ and ‘Out’.  I thought out meant, passé, no longer trendy, not what was on the outside of the roll.  And I laughed and learned something new in that moment.


It was simply bad communication, I assumed (and was wrong), I didn’t get the ‘secret handshake, I’m not the ‘trendy’ place gal who has seen this in other places, or I’m just plain dumb, or all of the above.   So I kept the sushi, ate the parts I liked, and left the parts I did not like.  


It wasn’t the restaurant’s fault; they can’t be all things to all people.  


Neither can we. But….


As leaders, we can minimize confusion, returns, broken relationships, bad service and assorted other problems by thinking in terms of who will see/read/buy this and what their experience would be. 


It’s not so much that I know what I mean when I decide on a message or product packaging or sermon or restaurant menu; I have to start thinking about how would others interpret this?  Would they know the ‘in’ and ‘out’, my secret handshake?  Could there be a misunderstanding?  Would the core message I hope to share, be it a marketing message or love message, be received differently than I expected?


Today I’m more conscious about how my words can be received than I was 20 years ago, and I hope 20 years from now, my consciousness will be brought to a much higher level.


What secret handshake, marketing message, inside joke, sermon, seminar or class do you need to take a fresh look at to ensure everyone gets the ‘in’s’ and ‘outs’?