Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Specificity: It's Important

I am a fan of specificity. It's a good thing because it means that I screw up less. If you explain something to me in EXACT detail, chances are I will accomplish whatever it is in a timely manner, and the task/project/whatever will be done at least semi-decently. But the minute you start being vague, it's game over. I can't do it. Vagueness, that is. It just drives me crazy, and sometimes gives me homicidal thoughts! How am I supposed to know what you want when you can't even properly articulate to me what it is you want!?

An example of the art of being vague happened to me the other night. My mum turned to me and said "hey Leah, what's that song that I like by that girl that has that beat that I like, that was on Saturday Night Live that one time, but not recently, who might be from the Netherlands?" Um, that's not a lot to go on. It doesn't help that I laughed hysterically at this because I don't think you can get any more vague. It also doesn't help that my sister walked out of her room and started offering suggestions like Ace of Base and Björk. Our combined laughter only made things worse, as my mum started to laugh, which made speech unintelligible, and figuring out what she wanted even more difficult. What this whole episode reminded me of was the hellish nightmare of retail work. I spent my teenage years dealing with people who didn't understand the concept of specificity. I can't even begin to count the number of times someone walked into the bookstore that I worked at and said "Hi, I'm looking for a book", which would then prompt me to ask them if they knew the title or the author. 9 times out of 10 they had no idea, but they did know the color. Yes, let me show you to the magenta section, because every bookstore organizes their shelves by colors. It gave a whole new meaning to Reading Rainbow.

Specificity is important. By being specific you cut down on my murderous urges, so instead of picturing myself bludgeoning your vague ass with a golf club, I can actually help you. So please, next time you ask someone for directions, or to help you find a book, or a song, or anything, try to be as specific as possible...otherwise you could die.


P.S. Here is a picture of a golf club with a word of wisdom about what could happen when you are vague

P.P.S. The song was Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine...she is not from the Netherlands...

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