Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Blokes&Sheilas

For several years now I have been striving to use more precise language in my communications.  I am painfully aware of how often those in leadership positions use nuanced language, abstractions, vagaries, and downright misleading language to either hoodwink others or to avoid accepting any sort of accountability for their decisions/positions. 

When we communicate with others, it is not only important that we be clear about what we are saying, we must also be diligent in using language that is understandable to the varying audiences we address.  

I once took a group of honor students on an outing, which included dinner at a nationally known chain restaurant.  One of the young men excused himself to go to the restroom.  He very quickly returned and discreetly sidled up to me, speaking quietly in my ear:  "Mr. Coulter, am I a bloke or a sheila?"

The signage on the restroom door was, in fact, simple and clear.  However, it was not easily decipherable to all of the intended receivers of the message (and this young man was very intelligent - he just didn't comprehend the language).

Being succinct, crisp, precise, and understandable to those who would give us their ear, their attention, perhaps even their time and effort, is extremely important.  

That is, if we actually want to be understood.

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