Try to Understand Where People are Coming From



Becky told me of her introduction to anchovies over 25 years ago. She
was in the famous Mama Leone’s Italian restaurant in the Times Square area
of New York City while on a college choir tour. The violins were playing,
the singers were singing, the fountains were springing forth – and somewhere
in the midst of her seven-course meal she was presented with one sample
According to Becky, “My music director, a great connoisseur and lover of
anchovies, assured me the proper and the most efficient way to consume it
was in one, all-encompassing bite. Not wishing to appear too much the
novice, I quickly did as instructed.”
Becky’s face twisted as she recalled her reaction. “I cannot fully
describe for you the exact sensation of eating that thing. But if you can
imagine taking a very miniature porcupine, soaking it in a very oily
substance for a day or so to soften its quills a bit, flattening and
stretching it to between four and six inches, soaking it for a week or more
in heavy salt, and then eating it in one bite, you will then have some idea
of how that anchovy tasted to me. Considering the surroundings and the
company, I had no recourse but to smile, force a swallow, and politely
request more water. I think you have some idea of what I really wanted to

I can relate to Becky’s experience. I remember well the first – and last
– time I tried an escargot. It appeared to me that the more I chewed it,
the larger it became. However, just as Becky’s choir director loved
anchovies, some people truly appreciate escargot as the delicacy it is
purported to be. But my response to the escargot was similar to Becky’s
response to the anchovy. Thankfully, I was more fortunate than Becky. My
experience with the escargot (or, as Barney Fife would say, “It’s a
snail!!!”) was at a stand-up, walk-around reception in a dimly-lighted hotel
ballroom and I was able to inconspicuously and discreetly dispose of the
Different strokes for different folks. That is the whole point of this
column. “Whatever turns you on,” is the way we sometimes phrase it – or –
“Whatever melts your butter.” What is referred to as sushi bars in some
areas of the country are referred to as bait shops in other areas.
People come from different frames of reference. We must constantly keep
this in mind as we attempt to relate to various people from various
backgrounds. Or, as I like to say when I speak on the topic of human
relations, “Try to understand where people are coming from.” The better you
can understand a person’s frame of reference, the better you can “get a feel
for this person” and gain insight into why the person thinks, feels, acts,
and reacts the way he or she does. The better you can accomplish this, the
better you can relate to the person. And the better you relate to the
person, the more likely some very good communication and teamwork will
Carl Mays is an author and speaker at over 3,000 events. To inquire about
his speaking to your group, contact or phone
865-436-7478. His books, including A Strategy For Winning, Winning Thoughts,
Anatomy Of A Leader, People of Passion, and Are We Communicating Yet?, are
available in stores, on and
other Internet locations.
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