One spring the mugo pine in front of our house became infested with worms that were eating the needles off the bush. I decided to take the manly approach to get rid of them – chemicals. Well, using a shotgun would have been manlier. But when you use firearms for insecticide it slows down the recovery time of the plant.
On returning home from the store with the liquid weapon the label said (I know, not manly, I read the instructions, I admit it) that it was in concentrate form to be mixed with water (good thing I read the label). As I mixed it up the concoction smelled absolutely horrible. The odor itself would have been enough to fend off worms, wolves and most small invading armies. Carrying the potion over to the bush I walked past the front door of the house. I noticed that the door was wide open. I didn’t want the terrible smell to get inside so I yelled in to my wife, “Shut the door! It stinks!”
After I had committed the application, cleaned up and got everything put away safely I went in to talk to my wife. Our conversation revealed something interesting. When I had yelled in through the door, she was not aware that I was working with an odiferous chemical. What I was not aware of was that she had been singing as she was doing spring cleaning. So here she had been on a beautiful spring day, working with the door open to take in the fresh air, singing joyfully as she went and I yell in, “Shut the door! It stinks!”
Fortunately she realized that I could not have possibly meant what she heard me say. She knew there had to be more to the story. Had I yelled in, “Please close the door so this awful smell doesn’t get in the house,” would have raised other questions for her about me, but would have been more effective.
I learned a lesson in communication that day. It’s not just about the message that’s delivered. It’s about the message that’s received.