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Friday, February 20, 2009

People Say the Dumbest Things - Ding!

Sometimes people say things that make you pause, look, and say, "what were you thinking?" Then you realize they weren't thinking at all...

I was at a good friend's wedding this past weekend. The photographer is running around taking pictures of the bride and groom with different people. At one point he sets up a shot with the bride, the groom, and the groom's parents and sister.

The photographer is about to take the picture when he pauses, looks up at the sister and says, "could you just fix your hair?"


This leads to a brief pause with a slightly confused look. Then I burst out laughing. Then she starts laughing. Then a lot of people start laughing.

You see, there was nothing wrong with her hair. She had it styled very nicely, but I suppose the photographer didn't approve. Perhaps he was unfamiliar with the concept of "bangs." He was clearly unfamiliar with the concept of "tact."

I don't know about you, but I would think that insulting the groom's sister is not the best business tactic at a wedding.

This is why when it comes to improvising with the unexpected, it is so important to train your "automatic responses." Condition yourself to act and react automatically in a positive way, so that when things start happening fast (like if you are a photographer taking hundreds of pictures at a wedding) you don't say something stupid.

"But Avish, it was an honest mistake!"

I don't know. I would think that as a wedding photographer that you would want to have some familiarity with fashion and hair. Enough so that you wouldn't look anything that doesn't look like a traditional hairstyle and assume it was a mistake. I mean, this wasn't some crazy "Flock of Seagulls" 'do.

But the real issue isn't that he made the mistake. The issue was the off-handed, semi-condescending way he asked her to fix her hair. Clearly, here was a person who had not conditioned himself to automatically communicate in a polite respectful way. I am guessing you know people in your life who fit that bill...

Take some time and start paying attention to your "default" conversations. Do you automatically respond in ways that are polite and respectful, or in ways that make you put your foot in your mouth?

Practice now, or you may find yourself on the wrong end of a big fat Ding!

1 comment:

Jeff Porten said...

Potentially better advice: as some of us have learned that avoiding Dings is impossible, it's better to learn how to gracefully extract ourselves from one.