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December 07, 2014

Magic Wand

December 07, 2014

As an account manager and team lead at SmallBox, I’m continually learning a lot about language and intent. My job pretty much relies on communicating with others, be they teammates or clients. Every day I am reminded how difficult it is to communicate what one means using words.

Not only can biases and personal experience color one’s interpretation of language, but there is the whole issue with implication and inference. We don’t always say what we mean. More to the point, we don’t always use the words that mean what we want the listener to understand.

Communicating with others is very confusing and frustrating.

If I had a magic wand (I don’t, which is also frustrating), I would use it to conjure the ability for all communication to be perfect. I’d make a device, or change the brain to somehow perfectly interpret meaning and intent.

If I had a magic wand I’d make it so that people always heard what others meant to say.

I base this wish on the simple belief that people honestly don’t intend to use hurtful, vague, misleading or contentious language most of the time. Granted, this comes from my own very narrow experiences and a whole lot of hope. As someone who is constantly viewed as brusque, contentious and argumentative, I have some personal stake in seeing this issue solved. I know for a fact that most of the time when I come across negatively my intent has been misinterpreted, often due to my own miscommunications.

This could be fixed if everyone knew exactly what I meant to say, from his or her own perspective and in his or her own terms.

The applications for this magic trick go far beyond making my life easier. Think of how debates would change, from the oft-belligerent Facebook exchanges about religion and politics to the far more meaningful conversations between actual political figures and religious leaders. We could get to the heart of issues much more quickly, and we would know that others come from a place of similar feelings and intentions.

We might see collaborators instead of enemies.

Too often, our conversations and relationships are complicated by the nuances of language. If, on the other hand, we innately understood what others meant and intended, we might be able to engage based on curiosity rather than defend based on a perceived difference. We would hear a lot more “that’s interesting, tell me more about that,” and a lot less “that’s stupid, here’s what I think.”

Utopia in one simple solution? Maybe… just maybe.

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Today’s prompt: “Wave your magic wand – whoosh – what would you transform, create, or make disappear in 2015? Don't be afraid to change the world, or merely alter the mundane. Just be prepared to defend your decision with reason, or irrational emotion!

Oh...this wand will self-destruct after a single use, so choose wisely!"

Photo Credit: David Hume Kennerly 1976

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