Do you have a topic (or five) that you don’t really want to hear about? For example, I am not a fan of bathroom humor. I don’t know why this topic bothers me, but it does. I don’t think less of someone who thinks it’s hilarious (my husband, for example) but I don’t think it’s funny. At all. There are times when I do not want to hear it (that would be NEVER), especially, during dinner. I will ask my crazy family to please, please change the subject.
As an HR Director, I regularly speak in front of groups of people. I speak to my employees all the time, but I also speak to board members or business partners. I’ve been asked to speak in front of young people just entering the workforce or people who have fallen on tough times and are trying to find gainful employment. Each audience is different and depending on who I’m speaking to, my message changes, because what they need or want to hear is different.
Knowing your audience is an important rule to remember when speaking in front of others. To me, it is also very similar to empathy. Empathy is when you are able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to understand their point of view. I believe empathy is an extremely important characteristic for people to have. Whenever you are speaking to others, one person or 100 people, or when you are relaxing with your friends, your message and what you say is specific to that audience.
As parents, we all have a different comfort level with the jokes and stories our kids tell us. I remember (although it is somewhat blurry) what it was like to be a teenager. I remember wanting to be grown up so badly and wanting to say things that sounded “grown up” to me. My kids do this at times. They may say inappropriate jokes or comments, that to their friends would be hilarious, but to me, not so much. That’s when I tell them to KNOW THEIR AUDIENCE.
My two teenagers are great kids and are growing up way too fast for my liking. They are still learning – just like the rest of us – and helping them to be more empathetic towards others is an important piece of their development.