A Failure to Communicate

A number of years ago, I agreed to help a young professional masseur set up his QuickBooks software. In return, he was to give me a number of massages, basically on a time spent exchange. Before I go any further, I will say that he was very good and helped me a lot.

The first thing I asked him was how he wanted me to do it. I could do it the slow way, I said, and teach him step-by-step how I was setting up his system so that, should he ever need to make changes, he could. When I ws done, I explained, he would not only know how to use the program as an accounting ledger (he was also taking a class in acocunting), but he would also understand how the program worked.

Or I could just set up his system for him. That would be faster, I said, but he wouldn’t learn how I had done it.

The difference, I explained, would be like just driving a car (that was the fast way) versus learning how to work on a car (that was the slow way). In the end, with the fast way, he could get where he wanted to go, but if the car broke down, he would have to call in an expert to fix it. With the slow way, he would be able to fix the car as soon as it broke down. Or, if he wanted to make modifications, with the slow way, he would know how; with the fast way, he would need to call in an expert any time he needed to make a modification.

Oh, he assured me, he wanted me to teach him the slow way; the “how to fix a car” way..

So I did. Or rather, I tried to. Man, did I try. But every time I was there working on his system, he always paced around the room, wanting to talk about just about anything rather than the task at hand, and every time I tried to explain something, he would be on the other side of the room or even in another room entirely doing something else. Sometimes he even left the premises entirely for 20 minutes or more at a time. It was very frustrating.

Because I couldn’t seem to keep his attention, I started to suspect right away that maybe he didn’t want to be taught. So during each session, I would ask him several times if he was sure he wanted me to teach him; perhap, I suggested, I should just go ahead and set it up for him? And then he could ask me questions later if he had any.

Oh, no no no, he would assure me each time I asked him that question. I want to learn how to set it up, he said.

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