Thursday, May 15, 2008

Is Your Reputation for Detail an Illusion?

Detail. What does paying attention to detail communicate? And whose detail do you pay attention to? Should you get to call yourself a detail person if the only detail you pay attention to is your own? Three people with three different reputations. Different detail scenarios - match them up.


Profile A:
30ish female, dresses nicely, jewelry is understated, works full time, is relied on heavily at her office to “keep things in order,” is praised annually for paying attention to the details.

Profile B:
50ish male, accounting background, a detailed self proclaimed “numbers” guy. Perfectionist with a strong routine gene. At the office is described as solid, reliable, “cuts to the heart of the issue.” Sees solutions where others don’t.

Profile C:
70ish, male, big picture kind a guy. Passionate. Uses terms like “slap it together” and is a committed do-it-yourselfer whether he knows how to do it or not.


Who does which?

___ Shows up at brunch with that little cross stitch on the new coat still connected

___ Keeps a “to-do” list and dutifully crosses off items as completed

___ Spends three days in kitchen and never notices a new piece of furniture

___ Is most comfortable in dress clothes

___ Spouse shows up at brunch with that little cross stitch on the new coat still connected

___ Remembers important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries

___ Notices new outfit on spouse immediately

___ Forgets or chooses not to comb the back of their hair even on a workday

___ Closet organized by activity – work/play/lounge

___ Organizes a calendar for both personal and work commitments

___ Balances checkbook every month


Let’s hear it readers – what do you think? Send me your answers either via blog@zmf.com or using the comments link below. Copy and paste the list above and enter in the profile letter to replace the _____. Good Luck!

11 comments:

Kristin said...

C - Shows up at brunch with that little cross stitch on the new coat still connected

A - Keeps a “to-do” list and dutifully crosses off items as completed

C - Spends three days in kitchen and never notices a new piece of furniture

B - Is most comfortable in dress clothes

C - Spouse shows up at brunch with that little cross stitch on the new coat still connected

B - Remembers important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries

A - Notices new outfit on spouse immediately

C - Forgets or chooses not to comb the back of their hair even on a workday

B - Closet organized by activity – work/play/lounge

A - Organizes a calendar for both personal and work commitments

B - Balances checkbook every month

Anonymous said...

Who does which?

C Shows up at brunch with that little cross stitch on the new coat still connected

A Keeps a “to-do” list and dutifully crosses off items as completed

B Spends three days in kitchen and never notices a new piece of furniture

B Is most comfortable in dress clothes

B Spouse shows up at brunch with that little cross stitch on the new coat still connected

A Remembers important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries

A Notices new outfit on spouse immediately

B Forgets or chooses not to comb the back of their hair even on a workday

A Closet organized by activity – work/play/lounge

A Organizes a calendar for both personal and work commitments

B Balances checkbook every month

I have to admit some of my answers were influenced by the gender of the person in each scenario. In my professional experience, it is generally women who are able to pay attention to detail while still having their eye on the "big picture" and the men tend to be better at one over the other. But maybe my experience is unique...anyone agree or disagree?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kristin

Steven Clough said...

I feel like this is a trick question. How are those descriptions supposed to help you know who does what? They really don't...

Theresa Zagnoli said...

Of course it is a trick question. That is the point. We rate attention to detail high on the list of desirable qualities, yet we are poor judges of the characteristic.

Steven Clough said...

Speaking of being 'poor judges of character,' I find it interesting here the way "anonymous #1" said their answers were influenced by gender. I'm guessing, by the description, they're female? ;)

We get ourselves into trouble when we try to put definitions on some things. When we define people in a 'box' and it can be very dangerous, especially when dealing with things like gender, race, sexual preference, or religion. Interesting post now that you've got me thinking a little bit...

Anonymous said...

Frankly, Steven, I am offended that you called me a poor judge of character. I did not evaluate anyone's character. I did not say either gender was better or worse. I did not say whether or not it is better to be a “big picture” thinker versus a “detail oriented” person. In fact, I believe a successful enterprise needs people of all types.

In my defense, I would never look at a person of either gender and assume they are one way or another, project any attribute on them, or put them in any “box”. The same is true for race, sexual preference and religion. I am, in fact, female but I assure you that has nothing to do with my observation. It has everything to do with working with women who juggle career and family and watching how they can be successful at both. I believe it is because of this that they are often good at the detail and the big picture simultaneously...out of necessity. That is not an insult to men.

Lastly, if you paid attention to detail you would note that Theresa said we are poor judges of the CHARACTERISTIC, not poor judges of CHARACTER.

Thanks to Theresa for another thought provoking post. I look forward to seeing what we can disagree about next!

Aaron said...

This reminds me of a great quote by Anais Nin, "We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."

Our own personal biases, usually subconscious, have a profound influence on how we see the world and other people. We tend to be very sure of ourselves, when, in fact, we have no idea.

Great post Theresa!

Steven Clough said...

I'm sorry if I've offended, but I was honestly joking around and had no intentions of insulting you. Please don't take my last comment personally; merely giving you a hard time.

And the second half was by no means directed at you, simply an observation for discussion. (Case in point of how hard communication can be without other visual or verbal cues to help.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Steven. I am no longer offended :) You make an excellent point about communication in the absence of visual and verbal cues. Precisely why I used that smile above. I should have paid more attention to your wink in your previous post!

Maybe a topic for another blog!

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