Know Your Audience

As I approached the first-floor coffee-station a conversation between a man and a woman was interrupted by a third person who had a question for the man. The woman is sweet and fun and she and I had a brief exchange of pleasantries which ended with her saying, laughing, “I agree.” Just then the man she had been talking to rejoined us and said, “Huh?”

You know how it is when someone enters the end of a conversation and then wants to know what’s going on, and the whole thing gets repeated.

“I was just agreeing with Ashley.”

“Agreeing with what?”

“That the world would be a better place if everyone understood the importance of having the right tea.”

A blank look from him.

“Well, we were talking about tea.”

“Why would you talk about tea?”

“It’s something I would never talk about with you,” she acknowledged, “but it is a perfectly normal conversation for me to have with Ashley.”

He didn’t exactly back away in terror, but he might as well have, considering the look he gave us.

“Now look what you’ve done!” I teased her, when he was gone. “He thinks I am completely crazy.”

And, laughing, she apologized, “I am so, so sorry. He certainly does.”

Yep. Knowing your audience isn’t just for speeches and persuasion papers.


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