Monday, April 12, 2010

Stop and listen

Listening is hard, especially when you think you've got all the answers.

Today I was at another one of those damned farmer -- excuse me, grower -- auditions ("Bring baseball cap that fits character"). At least this time I wasn't the actual grower, but the guy who sells him the seeds.

Anyway, the guy I get partnered with asks me what I know about farming. I give him a minute or two rundown of my online research -- stuff about heavy vs. light soils, variable drainage on high and low ground, hybrid seeds, yields, "emergence," the impact of El Nino on this year's growing season, etc.

He then tells me he works on a several-hundred-acre farm. Duh. Yes, he was kind of impressed at my research, but he wasn't asking me to fill him on farming topics and techniques -- he wanted to know if I was qualified to keep up with him as we ad-libbed our conversation in the audition.

I've gotten better at this over the years. I don't feel like I have to be the smartest person in the room, and I don't feel like I have to tell everything I know. But I'm still not Don Draper. The guys who holds it all in, close to the vest. And not just as a negotiating tactic, but as a general way of behaving in the normal course of events.

"What do you know about farming?"
"Just some things I've read on the Internet."

Then just go from there. It's not a big thing, and this is probably a poor example. But a lot of times I'll guess or make an assumption about what someone's asking, simply because I have information or a story I want to tell or I'm caught up in the momentum and energy of a conversation.

That's pretty common, I suppose. And, in most cases, relatively harmless, save for a little embarrassment. But I still want to work on it.

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