No Ranger, No!


At a park my wife Doris and I go for long walks, one day we spotted a woman walking along the walking trail.  She was pushing a stroller with a very young child and had a very large dog on a leash.  The dog was very happy to be a the park and clearly had an abundance of energy.  He was ready to explore!

The dog was large enough that, with almost no effort, he could pull the woman along or in a different direction.  Struggling to manage the stroller and the energetic dog, the woman was clearly frustrated. “No Ranger, No!” we heard several times as she pulled on the leash with one hand, the other hand hanging on to the stroller.

We passed near her more than once in our stroll, the last time hearing her bark out, “Ranger! No!  Do you want to ever come to this park again?”   Of course, as before, Ranger was oblivious to the woman and anxious to explore, ears up and tail high.

But what an interesting comment to make to a dog.

“Do you want to every come back to this park again?” 

Now perhaps this dog was smarter than I gave him credit and understood this threat.  However, I submit that instead this woman made a very common communication mistake.  She forgot the audience of her message.

This woman was pleading about something purely from her perspective.  Her threatened punishment was a penalty that perhaps she saw as a penalty. And while Ranger likely would miss the park, I’m guessing he never considered her threat, well, threatening.  I’ll even concede the possibility that perhaps he understood and she just lacked credibility.  After all, he kept pulling and tugging, ready to run through the park and play.

However, more than likely her message was doomed to be instantly lost, falling on deaf ears that were never going to understand.  I’m guessing her message even failed to soothe her own frustration.

To this day, when Doris or I see someone obviously ignoring their audience (or the audience has decided to ignore them), we may say to each other, “No Ranger, No!” and get a nice chuckle.  We even say it to each other when we realize that our own message was completely lost, usually due to our own communication failure.

To “remember the audience and their perspective” seems like such an elementary and fundamental concept that it would not be easily forgotten.  However, so many people only see the world from their perspective.  When they do this, what they say reveals their own one-sided perspective for the world to see, whether in a park, a relationship, an interview or business presentation.

Remember the audience, even if it is an audience of one.


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.