Monday, July 09, 2012

Listening Fail

I'm finding out why it's a good thing I don't have a working television and cable to supply it.

Because I can get programs I like on the Internet, and that's just as bad. Or worse.

Especially if you can get episodes on continuous stream.


So, I admit it.  I've found someone on YouTube who posts back episodes of What Not to Wear and Say Yes to the Dress.  What a guilty, addictive pleasure.  The former can be helpful in helping me shop sales, but as for the latter?  I've never tried on or needed a wedding dress, I don't foresee ever needing one (though it would be a nice surprise out of life, yes?); nor do I have any daughters or granddaughters who might take me wedding gown shopping with them.

Still, I watch.  Let's say it satisfies the frustrated fashion designer in me-- after all, that's what I wanted to be all through high school.  And sometimes the show gives food for thought-- in a not necessarily digestible or comfortable way.

Take the Season 1 episodes I've seen lately.  It's just like a TV show producer to glom onto and follow around the most interesting consultants, the ones with the most personality or those who'll strike the most sparks.  So in Season 1, they latched onto a newbie consultant named C--, whose combination of cluelessness, egomania, and crappy selling skills has the YouTube commenters wide-eyed with wonder.

I could tell she was headed for trouble in her first appearance, when a bride told her she wanted to see "Greek goddess" gowns and instead of fetching some, C-- basically told the bride (though in not so many words) she was stupid for asking, didn't she know that style made everyone look fat?  I was sure that when the show was broadcast, she'd be mortified to see herself and want to correct her behavior.  But as the episodes go on you see her committing error after correctable error.  Couldn't she have asked to see the footage taken of the successful sellers?  But you glean that she wouldn't be interested, because she continually tells the camera that she thinks she's doing just fine, there's no room for her to improve, nobody sells that many dresses anyway, etc., etc.

The Kleinfeld's management gives her chance after chance, and to her face and to each other they say, "C-- doesn't listen."

Oh, that.  That's a song I know well.  And from bitter experience, I well know the uselessness of vague job review terms like "X doesn't listen."

For C-- really thinks she is listening--according to her own definition of the term.  Trouble is, it's not her definition that was going to rule.  But if her supervisors really want to give her a chance to succeed, . can't they see she doesn't or can't catch what they're trying to convey, that she's interpreting it entirely differently than they mean it?

"You doesn't listen" in this Say Yes to the Dress situation could have meant

  • "We don't want you just to hear our words and understand them, we expect you to do what we say."  I.e., "to listen" means "to obey."
  • "You need to learn from management and the other consultants, and not figure a rookie like you has it all down."
  • "Listening to the brides does not mean making common cause with them over against the store.  It reduces their confidence in the establishment and in you."
  • "When management politely suggests something be done, the politeness is social grease, and we really mean, do it."
  • "You keep up such a flow of talk you can't take in anything else."
  • "When the brides say they want to try something or other, you're sure you know better and bring them something else instead."
  • "You don't know to shut up long enough to let the brides' instincts about the Perfect Dress take over and make the sale for you."
And so on.  True, C-- was so colossally full of herself I guess it would have done no good had management spelled it out for her.  She deserved to get canned.  But for the rest of us poor working fools out there just struggling to do our best, please, HR, be a bit more specific.  Define your terms!

When I was hit with "She doesn't listen," I knew it meant "she doesn't obey."   In the circumstances I couldn't acquiesce and they had no right to ask me to do so-- though they did have the power to punish me for it, however unfairly or illegally.  But that aside, last night I reflected that I don't listen as I should.  I tend to talk too damn much.  Lord, help me to be quiet in myself and let the other person's thoughts and feelings and ideas flow!  For unlike C-- on Say Yes to the Dress, I have it in me to see myself and be very, very mortified.