The importance of preparation
April 20, 2018
by Ivan Raconteur

It’s no secret that men and women are different. We see things and learn things in different ways.

I observed an example of this recently when I chanced to be present during an exchange between two co-workers.

I had transacted my business with a male colleague when a female staff member entered.

Before the young lady could say a word, the male in the sketch made a comment about the “bright orange” nail polish she was wearing.

She corrected him, explaining that it was red.

He then asked if she knew it was chipping (she did).

The observant fellow then began quizzing her about whether she had done her surface preparation properly before applying the polish.

She replied that she had, but her response was lost in the flood as the fellow launched into a longish story about how he had learned the value of surface preparation long ago.

His dissertation included a story of how he had once painted the kitchen in his grandmother’s house in the days before he knew one cannot simply slap a coat of latex paint on a wall that has been painted with oil-based paint.

He soon discovered this when the paint began bubbling a couple weeks later.

The discussion, such as it was, continued with him sharing anecdotes about lessons he had learned in shop class or the local home improvement store. Meanwhile, she tried to explain the steps she had taken with respect to surface preparation.

At least that was the direction it sounded like the conversation might be going.

Rather than staying to listen, I headed back to the relative sanity of my office.

The exchange above reminded me of something I have observed many times over the years. Both parties in the discussion appeared to have an understanding of the subject – in this case, the importance of surface preparation prior to applying a top coat – but the way they framed this understanding was quite different.

This doesn’t mean either one was right or wrong, they simply used a different frame of reference.

Whether one accomplishes surface preparation with sand paper, tack cloth, and a tin of primer; or prefers to start with ridge filler and base coat before adding a couple coats of polish and a top coat, the result is more or less the same.

The goal is to arrive at a surface to which a finish coat can adhere.

People seem to get hung up on who is right or who is wrong, but often they agree, and the difference is purely semantics.

I have, at various times in the past, witnessed spirited discussions during which I quickly deduced that the both combatants were arguing on the same side.

When that has happened, I have simply sat back and watched to see how long it would take them to figure out they were on the same side.

One can learn a good deal more by listening than by talking. Sadly, listening is a skill not everyone has acquired.

Like painting, active listening requires attention and preparation. Failure to prepare may result in a failure of information to adhere, which, like a bad paint job, leaves us right where we began.

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