But Mommy, You Said…

by Enrique Bekerman


When my son Randy was 4 years old he invited a neighborhood friend to play. My wife admonished the boys to take “only one toy out at a time”. My son agreed, but when my wife returned, to her dismay all of Randy’s toys were scattered all over the room.

Randy, noticing my wife’s obvious displeasure, quickly protested his innocence by proclaiming “but mommy, you said to ‘take one toy out at a time’, and that’s what we did!”

Clearly, my wife was disarmed by this remark, since the boys had followed her instructions literally and taken every toy out one at a time! She had neglected to instruct the boys to replace each toy before taking the next one out

Doesn’t this story ring a bell with you? How often do you encounter that your spouse, colleague or employee totally misconstrues what you are saying? Unfortunately, often this “crossing of wires” is only discovered after the damage is done. We tend to leave the obvious out, as in the story above, assuming that it is equally obvious to the listener; but that is not always the case.