Precision of Language

What do you mean by what you say? It’s a powerful and ambiguous question that could bring you more clarity or rejection. We have evolved to who we are today thanks to our communication skills. Our ancestors, the best ones, survived because they were precise when describing food location or where predators were wandering. The precision of language allowed us to be the powerful living being we are. When food or safety is not our primary goal it’s easy for us to be superficial and approximative. It can become part of our culture to speak fast and easy without giving too much attention to the words we are using and how we are using them. That makes us lazy and sloppy. Imprecision in communication makes us prone to error, to waste and inefficiencies. Asking “what do you mean?” or “Can you elaborate that?” or “Can you provide an example?” is usually seen as being on the defense, or even annoying if not insulting. It’s the precise role of who wants to be an effective listener to ask those questions. Designers, for instance, need to understand deeply and carefully the people involved with their design. They cannot be superficial or approximative or imprecise, unless there is a specific attitude to elicit knowledge with that behavior. Asking clarifying questions is a skill, to be used carefully. It can lead to rejection, failure or making you appear weird and annoying but it’s an important tool to become an effective communicator.

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