How I Manage to Share a Clear Vision Thanks to My Blind Classmate

November 23, 2022


Pauline Soares

With your explanations, I can finally understand.

Oh, I see, is that it?!

You explain it so well.

As long as I can remember, I have heard a lot of these sentences from people in my personal and professional life and never gave them any specific credit.

When I first started my career in hospitality, I was regularly in charge of new people training, ensuring information was diffused to everyone within the team, including those on holidays, on weekends, those working during the night, and those in their junior and senior positions. Life never stops at hotels!

During this period, I discovered that people came naturally to me to ask for updates, explanations, or when a crisis arose. It seemed that my way of restoring a situation, a procedure, or whatever, was appreciated.

In parallel, I have always done something my family and friends knew nothing about. From the age of five years old, I've been a horse rider. Horses... few people know about their ecosystem, values, or vocabulary. It was hard for humans to understand when I adopted an ethological attitude toward my horse.

Later on, I chose to start my career in luxury hotels. I began working in establishments my family did not dare to enter. Then I met my husband, who is Portuguese, and could only say a few French words back then.

All this context is to say that I was regularly, in all aspects of my life, driven to adapt and explain things of varying complexity to different people and even varying species!

Once, I stopped and questioned myself: What am I doing that makes people understand a concept better than when it is explained by somebody else?

The answer I found to this was not my beautiful smile but an enriching experience when I was in middle school. When I was around 13-14 years old, I had a classmate named Nicolas, who was blind. When talking with him, we all naturally developed a new habit: explaining.

We had to forget to say  "this," "that," "here," "there," or even shoulder shrugs and head nods.

We had to enrich our sentences, give context and think outside our visual references. We did this in all disciplines: during mathematics, English, sciences, or even our travel to Roma with our Latin teacher.

In addition, we created a solid and genuine human-to-human connection based on trust. We guided Nicolas from point A to B in school, and he relied on us for whatever we said, whether it was about the composition of his plate or the place we offered him to sit.

Now that I have progressed in the journey of my life, and considering the 2022 context, I think that being able to express ourselves clearly and understandably to the diversity of our audience while creating trusting relationships is critical. Especially in the professional field when many of us are geographically scattered and cannot share a common space, sitting next to each other.

Even today, when I struggle with a technical topic, I explain it to someone who is new to the field. Sometimes it is my mother, aunt, husband, or my dog (not always compliant, by the way). After explaining it, I ask them to tell me what they remember and understand. It works! A few days ago, my mother told me she had recently explained to her colleagues how the cloud works and where data are stored. She was able to do that because of the furniture storage analogy I gave her.

I told her that data are like stuff. Sometimes, you have more than your house can host, or you want it to be available to somebody else. So you can rent a more or less big box to store your stuff, get there whenever you want, and give a padlock key to somebody else. I extended this image to colleagues explaining to some of them that the company cloud solution they have access to is like a hotel.

They have a room under their name, a private place to store their data, and a place they can find shared resources, like a meeting room. With these examples, you can simply explain that a cloud solution is shared with others, and depending on where it is located, rules like GDPR or Cloud Act are different.

Conscious of this, I now live by a complementary Toltec principle: never make assumptions. It provides so much accuracy to my conversations.

I don't know if this article will inspire you in any manner, but it gave me the will to reconnect with Nicolas to say thank you.

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