Knowing Your Audience

Do you know your audience?  I mean really know your audience?  We often think we do.  We make assumptions about who they are, what they are interested in, their values, and what they might need.  Years ago, while working in east Texas, I found out what a poor judge I could be.

I was working at a campground in the piney woods where the pines grew thick and tall.  On one of my early weekends, a section of the campground became occupied by guys riding Harleys and wearing lots of black leather.  Once they settled in, they wasted no time in breaking out their beer.  At this site, it was fine as long as you stayed on your campsite.  It was late afternoon and I thought we were in for an evening of trouble.

Imagine my surprise, when they and their families showed up for the evening program.  While I was avoiding them, their wives and children had driven in from the Dallas area.  They all seemed to enjoy the program.  They asked lots of questions and we enjoyed getting to know each other.  I helped the guys plan a road trip to take in the beauty of the forest.   I helped their families plan a day of swimming, hiking, and other adventures.  We all settled in to a nice, quiet evening.

I’ve often thought about that experience and what it taught me.  Appearances can be misleading.  Only when you visit with someone, can you begin to know them.

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