The power of language. We all know how important punctuation is. You have probably seen the meme that’s been around for a while.
Why Punctuation is Important:
Lets eat, Grandma.
Lets eat Grandma.
No argument. Very different results there, and funny until someone loses a grandma. But hearing language is also very important, and maybe even life threatening.
As some of you may know, I am learning to fly. Cody started this hobby, and he earned his pilot license very quickly and easily. Faster reflexes and a younger mind. If you are around southwest Missouri, you should learn to fly in Lamar, Missouri. If for no other reason than to get a chance to fly with Tom Richards. Tom is an aviator with over 50 years of experience, and an incredible teacher of 82-years young. He stays calm when others would be screaming, and has a very soft and direct way of teaching the craft of flying.The other day we were practicing my landings. I need more practice than most. At any rate, as we came in on final approach, he said take a little power out, which means screw the throttle out as you approach the runway. Then he said through the aviator headsets, “Just a dab”.
I screwed the throttle to the clockwise, accelerating the plane.
“Just a dab” he repeats, so I screw it in more. “Just a dab” he says again, so I screw it on in. I had been hearing the word “add” where he was saying the word “dab”.
Now, you must imagine that I am sitting next to a flight instructor that is calm and cool as can be in almost every situation, but now he grabs the stick and says much louder “LESS POWER”. I turn it as fast as I can counter clockwise, lowering the RPMs of the motor.
We landed safely, but the speed was pretty fast coming over the fence. He once again began to explain the procedure for safe landings and what I should have been doing. Adding power was not what he had in mind.
I apologized, which he doesn’t really like, but explained how I thought he had been telling me to add power. As we dissected the conversation, he figured out how I had been mistaken. (Every time I say sorry, Tom tells me not to apologize. If he could teach a Canadian to fly, I think they would spend a lot of time on this topic.)
We had a similar language situation at the school several years ago. There was a great student named Gabby that moved like a hummingbird on crack. He was always running, and his movements were always faster than most humans. It is against the rules for students to rasp on the sole of the foot, and Gabby was in the midst of trimming one day, and rasping on the sole.
“You’re rasping sole.” Kelly yelled across the shoeing area. Gabby looked up, then bent his head and proceeded to rasp with more speed and determination.
“Gabby, you’re rasping SOLE!” Kelly yelled again.
Gabby started moving his rasp faster yet.
Kelly ran over and grabbed the rasp out of his hands. “What are you doing? You are rasping on the sole.” She said.
“Oh no” Gabby replied. “I thought you were yelling that I was rasping slow.”
Not a life and death situation like you could have in a plane. As I look back on many times where there has been confused instructions and misunderstandings, I can’t help but wonder how often what we say is not what is heard. Probably more than we know. If there is a moral of the story, listen carefully and be patient when people misunderstand what you might be trying to say.