It always gives me pause when I encounter someone who questions a fact that I think is totally obvious.  If I assume something is commonly held knowledge but come to discover that it isn’t, I try to reflect on what other assumptions I am making about how I communicate.

An example of this was recently brought home when a student was having trouble finding a frame to fit a piece of art he had been given.  The picture was 28 x 22, but he asked for help because all he could find were frames that were 22 x 28.

I know that the generic frame he was considering could just be hung the other way, but to him, those were two different sizes.  It occurred to me that he had no experience in buying a frame and the only thing he ever measured in two dimensions was probably pants — and a 32 x 34 men’s slacks is definitely different than a 34 x 32.  If pant sizes aren’t interchangeable, why would frame dimensions be?

The next time you encounter someone who sees the world from an entirely different frame of reference, take a moment to consider the view.  You just might learn something from the new perspective.

— beth triplett

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