My husband and I recently visited our local Home Goods store to buy a storage cabinet for my father-in-law’s new apartment. We went directly to the main furniture section and were successful at finding what we wanted. I then suggested that we quickly tour the store to see if there were any other options available. “Why,” my husband asked me, “do we have to look throughout the store when we found a good option here?” Using a tone that suggested that everyone already knew the rules for shopping at Home Goods, I responded, “Because we are at Home Goods and they spread items throughout the entire store. So you have to take a quick look around the entire store to make sure there isn’t a better option available. Dah.”
Ignoring his headshaking, I suggested we get a cart to hold the items we had already found. His expression of confusion returned. “You just said you wanted to see if there are other options, so why should we haul these options around the store?”
How could he not understand the basic premise of shopping at Home Goods? I mansplained that you must hold onto whatever you like until you finally decide – even though it means dragging things around the store that you ultimately don’t purchase. Otherwise, someone else might purchase the first option.
My darling husband wasn’t buying my theory and we set off to walk through the remainder of the store empty-handed, leaving the original merchandise behind. Having seen no better option, we returned to where we had left our original merchandise choice only to find an empty space. Convinced that a store clerk had simply moved the merchandise and someone had not purchased it, we scoured the store. No luck. The merchandise was gone and we were back to square one.
The entire episode reminded me of how we assume that someone knows the rules or norms. In the case of a new employee, it can be daunting to not understand what seems to be a given by everyone else in the room (or on Zoom).
The next time you sense that someone in the room may not be clued into how things really get done around here, give them a break and help them out. Your colleague will be grateful and your organization will be better for it.