Courgette, from the French word for squash, is another name for what I’ve always called zucchini. While there are quite a few countries that use the word courgette, I had never heard it before. Well, not until a friend from the UK mentioned it. Seems that’s what they call it there.
Now why do I even bring up courgettes in a dictionary about career and career-related stuff? So glad you asked. Because it’s all about good communication. Whether it’s a job interview or working with others, you need to both get what the other really means.
Here’s my courgette story
When my friend said the word, I asked what it was. (I’m a big believer in immediately asking when I don’t know something. This way a piece of my brain isn’t left behind wondering.) He tried to describe it as similar to unpickled pickles. And after guessing “cucumber” and “gherkin” I suggested “zucchini?”
He said “no”. We went on for a while longer trying to find a name I would understand, since he assured me it could be found in the United States. But eventually we went onto other things. And so I waited until I got home and looked it up. It is indeed zucchini.
But since he had never heard “zucchini” and I had never heard “courgette” we could have sat there forever not understanding each other. Until maybe we walked to a green grocer or supermarket and both pointed to it. Libraries are good too, but with all these budget cuts, sadly green grocers are open way more hours.
But you’re not understanding me!
In work and in life – yes even in job interviews – we often struggle to be understood. And to understand. Sometimes you’re both thinking the same thing or really close. But you just don’t have the common language (even if you speak the same language) to find true understanding.
There’s a real art to listening carefully and trying to tune into the language of the other person, so that you can maximize your chances of being understood. But too often, we leave each other either thinking we understood when we didn’t Or wondering why the other person just doesn’t get it.
Importance of truly understanding
In contract law, unless there is a mirrored understanding, where both parties clearly know what they’ve agreed to, there is no contract. That’s why in business communications of any kind it helps to repeat things back in other words. And to carefully check to see if there truly is mutual understanding.
And if there’s no word in common … draw a picture if you have to!
There’s an old song with lyrics “You say potato and I say potahto; you say tomato and I say tomahto” and it ends with the title “Let’s call the whole thing off.” The ultimate communication failure.
A successful career is built on effective communication.
So is a successful job interview.
And since you can’t do anything about the other person, your best bet is trying to figure out a language you both can understand. Make it your goal, since you gain nothing by being right yet misunderstood.
You may say courgette and I may say zucchini. But hopefully we can both agree it tastes extra good parmigiana! 🙂
[Article updated in 2020]