It all ended in tears

The first Hallowe’en I can remember was when I was five years of age.

I asked my father to bring me home a mask. What type of mask did I want? A “scary” mask, I told him. That evening my father arrived home with a brown paper bag. I was all excited until I saw the mask itself. Then I burst into bulldogtears. It wasn’t a scary mask at all!

My poor father was confused and upset. As far as he was concerned, he had brought me a scary mask.

Of course, the problem was that we had not agreed on a definition of “scary” at the outset. In addition, I should probably have provided him with visual aids to ensure he understood.

You see to my five-year-old mind, “scary” meant vampires and werewolves, but my father thought a snarling bulldog would be scary to a five-year-old.

In the end, I wore the mask and a sheet over my head, going door to door as a “bulldog sheik”.

Now when I run workshops, I like to stick a picture of a bulldog and four monkeys on the wall, to make remind everyone of how easy it can be to get it wrong.


  • Analysts, don’t assume you understand the customer’s terminology – learn the customer’s terminology.
  • Customers, value a pedantic analyst – precision in language is important.

Kind regards,

Declan Chellar

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