Everything's Obvious...Unless it Isn't!

By JoJo (What does the "D" and the fence mean?) Tabares

[This week's Word Wednesday post is brought to you by the word "obvious" and the number of times it isn't.]

I'm five foot nuthin' so when someone doesn't notice me standing in front of the sales counter, I don't always blame them.  I'm easy to miss.  Last Sunday at church, I saw a young man who was drawing some amount of attention at the entrance.  As my father has been known to say, he had a serious case of TALL!  I think I came up to his belt buckle.  ;D  At five foot and no inches, I'm not so obvious.  But as I'll share with you in just a moment, not everything is as obvious as we might think and some things are more obvious than we care to admit.

Continuing with my Word Wednesday series of misused words, I give you the word "obvious" which can mean almost anything from "Everything I notice should be patently obvious to you!" to  "I'm sorry. I didn't happen to notice the big, pink elephant in the living room!" My dh uses the word obvious often because it's always obvious to him that "when you're headed south, the sun should be over your left shoulder in the afternoon." or was that the right shoulder in the evening?  Maybe that was Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory with the lead pipe?  Is that really obvious to everyone?  How many directionally challenge folks do we have out there who have no clue how to tell west from south especially when the 101E goes south? Some things that are obvious to us are not, in fact, obvious to others.  I was born without that direction gene.  Either that or it fell out of my ear when my mother burped me as an infant. It's not "obvious" to me and since we've been married for 23 years during which time I've asked him  for directions to back out of our driveway, I thought that would be rather "obvious" to HIM by now! My dh also has a habit of nodding one way when he means for me to look in another direction.  It seems to be a family thing for my SIL does the same thing and seems to understand that it's "obvious" that when he nods left, he really means for you to look to your right.  Is it, also, obvious when your dh said he'd be home at 5pm for dinner, but decided to work late that day because he told you six months ago that his boss would probably be leaving for China? Soooo...everything is "obvious"...unless it just isn't!  But what about the other side of the coin? Did you just say you were a tulip on a cow train? I know I wasn't really paying attention to you and little Billy was screaming something about a jewel up on a mountain, but you should be more clear when you speak! In case you were wondering, there actually is communication arithmetic: 1 speaker + 1 listener = effective communication.  Yes, it's true that the communication breaks down when the one speaker isn't clear.  It's also true that it does so when the one listener really isn't paying attention.  Someone can send a clear message which gets scrambled during translation on the listener's end. Ever have those days when your brain just doesn't work right.  I sure have!  In my peri-menopausal state as a busy work at home-school mom, I have had occasions when my "listen button" is defective.  Or times when I read something and completely miss the very "obvious" and clear point being made.  That's because I'm listening with my brain in fast forward.  My fault.  I hate it when that happens because I have to admit to the speaker or writer that I was just too preoccupied with my own stuff to have paid closer attention to what they were trying to tell me.   It almost says to them, at that moment in my life, they weren't important enough for me to give them due attention.  :( So what do we do when things aren't as "obvious" as we thought or when things were much more "obvious" than we'd like to admit?  Admit it and rectify it!  If your email pal points out how you never did give her a time for the party, admit it and give her the answer she seeks.  Don't tell her it was "obvious" because you had talked about this party only six months ago!  lol  Conversely, if you missed her party because you didn't notice the invitation in the mail (the one marked 3x in red pen with "6pm Friday, February 6, 2010"), please don't blame the host for not calling you on Thursday night to remind you.  You missed it!  Admit it, apologize, move on. Everything in life is obvious...unless it isn't!  Be wise enough to know the difference and gracious enough to admit when you are wrong. Oh, if you're wondering about the "D" and the fence...  I don't usually watch football (I can see some of you already laughing at me, but for those of you who still don't know why, I'll continue).  My son was playing PoP Warner football a few years ago.  I don't understand much about football except that the Minnesota Vikings have purple uniforms and my 46 lb son could fly several yards during a scrimmage.  So my son wasn't on the field and I was bored.  Looking around at the crowd, I saw someone holding up a wooden letter "D" and a tiny little wooden fence.  Naturally, I turned to my dh to clue me in, "Why is that man holding a "D" and a fence?  (Okay so now more of you are laughing at me, but for those as clueless as I was, I refer you to the meaning of the word "Defense.")  You are now free to giggle hysterically. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer.  Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula, including Say What You Mean Defending the Faith.  You can also find JoJo on web sites such as Crosswalk.com and Dr.Laura.com.  For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit http://www.ArtofEloquence.com


  • jojosblog

    So right, Carla. Confusion follows when one part of the equation breaks down.

    Glad you enjoyed it, Kim.

  • In Our Write Minds

    So funny—and so true! Thanks for my morning chuckle. :o)

  • Carla

    Giggling hysterically! LOL But you are so right, JoJo. Things are quite obvious. . . unless they’re NOT!!! I can’t tell you the number of times communication skills have failed around here because of it. And I am (I like to think) better than most at it, having been well-trained by YOU. Still, things are so busy that I feel that the listener side of your equation falls down. 1 speaker + 1 not listening = 2 speakers = confusion!

  • cindy holman

    Very good article, JoJo! You’re right – there are things that we think are obvious and no one else gets it! I find this is true with humor – not everyone thinks something is funny – when I think it’s hilarious!

  • jojosblog

    Thank you, Nancy! I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it.

    You’re too funny, Peg! Thanks for posting.

    Carla, thanks so much for retweeting!

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