Two people divided by a common language
Some people speak a different version of English from others. You hear what they say, but do you really understand what they mean, and vice versa.
I never had a great relationship with my mother in law. We both tried hard, but the reality was that we had very different views on everything. We had different upbringings and different values and the only thing we really had in common was her son/my husband. We spoke a completely different language and try as we might, we never really understood each other.
When my son was around four, we dropped in to grandma (my mother in law) for lunch. She had gone to a lot of trouble to make sure he had lots of lovely things to eat, as grandmothers do. She produced a particular brand of fruit drink, and before I could say a word, my son announced (in the innocent voice only a young child can pull off) "mummy doesn't let me drink those". It was true, they were not something I would buy, but it wasn't the end of the world. I had no doubt that at other people’s houses he probably ate and drank things I wouldn't have bought, but I wasn't anal about it. I tried to interrupt and say it was fine, but my mother in law (no doubt hurt and disappointed) pointed to the fact that it said "no added sugar" on the front. She was quite right, of course, but what it doesn't say on the front (but did deal with in very small print on the back) was the number of other things that they do add to make it taste better, that were worse than any additional sugar. We both wanted what was best for my son/her grandson, but were unable to explain our respective views to each other without it appearing that one of us was criticising the other, even though that wasn't the case. No one was at fault and yet it still went wrong.
This often happens in business too – you say you want something by a particular time. In your mind, you've made it clear it's urgent. In your supplier's mind, it's just as soon as he can. That can apply to colour, and quality, and price and so many things. If he doesn't know what's important to you, and what's not, how is he going to know what to give priority to. If it goes wrong, is it his fault for not asking the right questions, or yours for not making yourself clear, or a bit of both?
When preparing contracts, we use our original questionnaires which we've developed over a period of time, and help us work out what is important to our clients, so we can make sure those things are reflected in the paperwork we produce. We also spend time with our clients, developing a relationship over a period of time, which helps us understand how they operate and the language they use. Perhaps if I'd had this experience 20 years ago, I'd have got on better with my mother in law!
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