A few years ago, I used Hemingway’s 6-word novel “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” in a keynote to illustrate a point about storytelling. What I didn’t know was that there was a man in the audience whose daughter had been born dead two weeks earlier.
It was an unforgettable reminder for me that people hear what we say in the context of their own experiences. Those experiences can be drastically different from our own.
We certainly can’t always foresee these experiences. Nor can we account for any possible experience someone might have had.
But it’s a good attitude to be sensitive to the possibility. And to be respectful when we recognise that our words have hit unexpected ground.