Episode #658

September 11, 2021

Misunderstanding is easy to achieve.

Sometimes conversation should be without nuance.
Plain spoken, succinct comments often communicate most clearly.
When communication is too subtle, misunderstanding occurs.

However, clarity is the vehicle of understanding.
When forming a sentence more is often better than less.
Sentences should, at a minimum, have a noun and a verb.
Something is acting in some way.

“He ran.”
…a perfectly correct sentence.

But this sentence begs the questions:
Who is “he”?
How did he run?
Where did he run to?
Where did he run from?
Why did he run in the first place?

The meaning of nouns and verbs benefit from pronouns, articles, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, interjections and prepositional phrases.
Clarity comes from expanded meaning.

“While on a hike, upon entering a clearing, camper Billy Smith ran quickly back into the woods from the huge black mother bear that was protecting her young.”

Economy of words equals sparsity of meaning.
Short cuts in speech lead to misunderstanding.
“This” and “that” are not a “thing.”

Listen attentively.

Allow a person to finish their sentence. Don’t finish the sentence for them.
There is so much to learn by waiting for the speaker’s thought to complete.
It is possible that the listener could have guessed that there was a bear in the clearing. 
Perhaps the listener guessed it was a tiger.
Finishing the speaker’s sentence with “…ran from a tiger” might confuse the speaker.

The wrong guess is a misunderstanding.
Interruption of one’s stream of consciousness happens more easily the older we get.
Distracting the speaker might leave them searching for their place in the story.
Worse yet, it might ruin the story.

Speak a language that your listener understands.
My job as a computer consultant was to speak in plain English about a client’s computer problem.
If i spoke geek to my client they would often not understand.
When my clients tried to speak geek, nobody understood the problem.

Don’t be too complex or too technical.
“On a hike, Billy ran from the bear.”
This version of the sentence gives opportunity to additional conversation.

Talking up to someone is just as non-communicative as talking down to them.
Strive for a level of complexity which is just enough to impart understanding of the situation. One that both parties comprehend.

Don’t make shit up.
Don’t lie.
Nowadays you will be busted for this behavior by Google anyway.

The point of conversation is to impart understanding.
Anything less is misunderstanding.


  1. David Molina September 10, 2021
    • Rick Thues September 10, 2021

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