Everyone Has a “REAL” Definition

April 15, 2017

Recently I had this conversation with a friend, and it became apparent that she and I clearly were on two different pages defining a common term. We were discussing “keynoting,” and I was sharing the idea that I’d like to learn more skills about becoming effective at keynoting. She immediately stated her opinion about how when others seek to “keynote” it bothers her because it means they are looking to make a name for themselves or trying to travel the world, etc. I immediately realized we clearly had two very different working definitions of what the term “keynoting” meant.

To me, keynoting is a presentation style that requires one to speak for an hour or so, encourage, inspire, engage and empower. Since I’m not a lecturer, this method of presenting is troublesome for me, but I’m curious to know and understand the science and structure behind building a compelling keynote presentation to share my passion. I feel like there are opportunities for me to speak for longer lengths of time at my district PDs and I want to make it more meaningful. I went on to share with her that learning the science behind the presentation is simply a foundation from which I might build. In fact, several tips I’ve recently learned has helped me revamp my workshops, vlogs, and even my writing style. Therefore, our two VERY different perspectives were so easily misconstrued. 

Multiple Perspectives 

Why do we think differently? After the conversation had continued, her work with professionals and keynoting led her to believe her interpretation was “the” definition. On the other hand, my work in the professional development setting was set up in a way that we call our choice sessions the titles they model. For example, we have “TedTalks” which are twenty minutes motivational sessions, but not at all a “real” Ted Talk. Likewise, keynoting is a lecture style that fits the description I described above. Our background experience led us to believe an “absolute” definition of a common word and left undiscussed would have resulted in a very skewed perception of both parties. 

How do strengths help shape a perception?

My number one Gallup strength is learner. So, for me, EVERYTHING becomes a learning opportunity. It might sound crazy, but even watching a movie looks different for me. During a movie, I’m constantly focused on the lighting, the story line, the structure of the script. I’m not sure others realize what is going on in my mind at any given time. Therefore, if I’m focused on trying something new, it almost always has something to do with why and how it works. Which makes sense to why one might misunderstand my desire to learn more about keynoting.

Value in Voice

The educator I was visiting with, held a higher professional status than me, and it would have been easier for me to dismiss sharing that our two definitions were entirely different and explaining my point of view. However, I couldn’t let the moment pass because it was completely different from the core values of my being as an educator and as a person. It was worth it to justify why I wanted to learn tips for keynoting and what it meant to me because the misperception would skew the view of my character. 

In what ways might individuals form their own definitions?

Past Experiences

Our strengths

Our current reality

Our unique quirks, interests, passions

Our personality

Our learning experiences, etc. 

How might this effect teachers and students?

How often to we interpret what district officials, administration, teachers are even students say and dismiss taking the time to clarify a misunderstanding. Everyone has their own definition because we all come from unique backgrounds. Our mindsets must be opened to believe that our way isn’t the ONLY way. Might it be that our frustration with a certain topic, initiative, or task is simply because we don’t understand its original purpose? How often do ten members of a leadership team leave a meeting and come out with ten different interpretations of the outcomes? Sounds absurd but is so true.

T’s Take-aways

Over-communication is better than the lack thereof. Even our best intentions can be misunderstood. Therefore, I must be intentional to communicate clearly. Be it voicing my perception when I’m misunderstood or possibly, at the onset, defining working definitions of words when working with groups of individuals. We must be clear in our manner of speech. Also, when misinterpreted, we need to be bold and clarify our “definition.” Miscommunication can lead to interpretations that might cause irreversible damage. Everyone has a REAL definition. How might we take the time to understand different perspectives and clarify our views, as well? 

Below is a video reflection from a meeting I had with a first-year teacher this week. It’s a perfect example of how often a word is misunderstood. Enjoy a little giggle.

PS Oh how I heart you, Brandt! *wink* Keep ROCKIN’ buddy. No worries, I’d watch all of your recordings. 

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  • Bret Gosselin April 15, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    I think your spot on with the fact that everyone’s definition is REAL-understanding that concept means that I will take other people’s perspective seriously and not dismiss their ideas simply because they don’t align with mine. I think this is at the core of empathy and being the kind of professional (or just human being) that we need to see more of in the world. This post definitely has me reflecting and will be in the back of my mind when discussing ideas with colleagues.

    • Bret Gosselin April 15, 2017 at 6:19 pm

      Yikes *you’re haha and I’m an English teacher!

      • Tara M Martin April 17, 2017 at 9:41 am

        No problem. Happens to the best of us. 🙂

    • Tara M Martin April 17, 2017 at 9:46 am

      Bret, you’re so right. This whole concept of being “REAL,” in all aspects of life, completely intrigues me.