Patterns (A-Z Challenge Day 16)

I love to imitate accents.  I play musical instruments by ear.  I can also  memorize a color precisely.

Quite an odd collection of abilities, eh?  And they all have to do with copying something.

Yup: I’m a copycat.  A mimic. A parrot.

I think I figured out why.   It’s about patterns    I love looking for patterns   I look for something I recognize, and when I find it, I zero in on it.

Like word searches and Where’s Waldo’s.

For example, I notice that with certain accents, the voice tone goes  up at the end of a phrase. (Scottish accents and some Southern accents do that.)  I gather clues like that when I’m listening to the accent and eventually I can pull it together.  It’s just a little collection of patterns.

It’s the same thing with colors    I can study a color and compare it in my head to other things whose colors I know very well,  “That olive-green from my old kitchen, only creamier, but not quite sea-foam….”  When the time comes to match the color, I can do it almost perfectly. From just a collection of reference points.

In fact, this ability to spot patterns is one of the things that serve me well in my career as a manager.  I can spot patterns in human behavior that give me clues about a person’s  motivation, thought processes, abilities, and sometimes even their honesty.

For example: when a person chuckles at something they’ve said to you, and then they look at you (for your reaction) slightly beyond the moment when they begin to turn their head, I’ve learned that they’re likely either (1) insecure about your relationship  or (2) they’re not being honest with you.

I don’t think this is tough to pick up on I think many people can and do pick up these signals    Try it   When you see someone do what I described, I’ll bet you get the very same sense   The key difference between you and me is that I notice why I got that sense.  It’s like a hobby for me.  Whereas most people would probably say, “I don’t know why, but I just felt she was snowing me.”

I’ve experienced this a lot over the years when I’ve spoken to other managers about a candidate we’ve all interviewed.  We’ll all have the same sense about the candidate – either positive or negative – and when I explain what I observed that gave me that feeling, the others will say, “Right! That was it!”  I can only conclude that many people do have good instincts about others….but they don’t always trust them because they can’t explain them.

What a waste of good instincts.

What we need to do is convert those feelings into facts by connecting them to observations.  We need to listen with our eyes and hunt for those fascinating patterns that reveal what a person really has to say.

Now if I could just identify the patterns that lead to success in the kitchen….


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