Expectations, empathy and elephants

April 1, 2015

imagesRecently I hurt my left eye.  Unfortunately it happened when I harmlessly rubbed it, rather than during a swashbuckling misadventure!

My eye was inflamed and red and of course it happened to be smack-bang in a week when I had a helluva lot on.  Worst of all, the very next day I was presenting an all-day workshop for a client who had never met me before. Since Plan A — crawl into a hollow log for a week — wasn’t possible, I decided to follow my own advice: ‘Always start by framing the elephant in the room.’

So for a week I used a variation of this entrée, as I stepped onto the stage with one bulbous red eye.  “Today I come to you with a health warning.  I burst a capillary in my left eye – apparently it’s really common.  Everyone knows someone who has.  It’s perfectly harmless, painless and not contagious but it looks grotesque!  So I understand if you make less than stellar eye contact with me today.

Whenever stuff like this happens I always have two reactions: the first being ‘Why me? why this?’ and the second being ‘How can I use this as a story?’ and that is the radar I hope to turn on with you today.”

A burst capillary takes about a week to heal (I am now of course an expert) and in the course of the week I decided to have fun with it.  I even bought an eye patch and introduced that as a prop.  I know what you are thinking, and I am so not going to post a photo of me in the eye patch – I looked like a pirate with issues!  And after a week, when my eye healed I almost missed the endless material it gave me.  Almost.

What my whole experience reinforced was the power of frames to set expectations, engender empathy and address any elephants in the room.  Eye patch optional.

Please comment – I love hearing from you.

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