Home » Archive » Stupid … it’s obvious

, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

Not every opportunity is hidden.

I just spent a few hours hob-knobbing with Fed/Prov Ministers, Ambassadors, CEOs, and Commissioners. These events are always a frenzied fury of networking but fortunately I’m an accidental deviant and happened upon a glaringly obvious opportunity.

See, I come hard-wired with a proclivity for swimming upstream or, in this case, not swimming when I ought to be. Standing in the midst of all those high-powered conversations I resisted the jittery inclination to leap at every fragmented conversation that skated my way and stood silent in the middle of the room. And that’s when I realized it …

Ministers, Ambassadors, CEOs, and Commissioners don’t speak English. Sure, they all use the same words, nod at each other, and flash poorly tailored smiles but they don’t understand each other — their words don’t have the same definitions. You’d miss it if you were deep in the conversation, but from the outside it’s betrayed in their apathetic glances when the speaker’s eyes are elsewhere, their frequent off-rhythm nodding, and the quickly forgotten names.

And when they leave the room, they each declare with utter certainty that the rest of the furious network is utterly loony. We’ve all heard that right? But what does it mean?

When a room full of big-shots so obviously miss each other it deserves some attention.


I’d be interested in knowing the common thread of misunderstanding. Don’t they hear each other, or is this all just posturing with no desire to see a solution?

In my years in government and with NGO’s funded by government I found the mixer a poor place
to network, a good place to say hi to people you knew, but not to meet new people.

Rather I found the events to be a chance to meet the “second level” of the team, in this
case the executive assistant, the one who controls the daytimer and access. Buy them a
drink, gossip, they are also bored stiff at this type of event (4th one tonight sometimes)
and are pleased to talk about anything but politics. Next time you need a appointment
though they will remember your name :-)

Bill, like Mike suggested, boredom plays heavily in these things. When this is the third/forth such event in a week, these folks are played out.

And, I agree with Mike that these events have some value.

But, I wasn’t suggesting these events are valueless. I was observing the big fish completely missing each other. It was apparently valueless to them when it should have been valuable. Why wasn’t it?

My guess, they didn’t understand each other. They didn’t share a common frame of reference and they didn’t know the gap existed. So, while they used the same sentence structures, deployed the same lingo, and swore liberally in the same places their ideas and paradigms didn’t synchronize. They needed an interpreter.