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Quick Note: Do You Know What People are Saying?

December 7, 2011

Today’s Note is from HBR.com blogger Dan Pallotta. His post, “I Don’t Understand What Anyone Is Saying Anymore,” in HBR.com is one of the funniest posts I’ve read in some time.

Pallotta’s opening paragraph is telling:

I’d say that in about half of my business conversations, I have almost no idea what other people are saying to me. The language of internet business models has made the problem even worse. When I was younger, if I didn’t understand what people were saying, I thought I was stupid. Now I realize that if it’s to people’s benefit that I understand them but I don’t, then they’re the ones who are stupid. [Italics are added by me, and denote a quote from the post]

He goes on to catalog various kinds of infractions, supplying amusing examples to underscore his points. Among his examples of communication dysfunctions is “Abstractionitis,” which is my personal favorite. Pallotta illuminates:

We have forgotten how to use the real names of real things. Like doorknobs. Instead, people talk about the idea of doorknobs, without actually using the word “doorknob.” So a new idea for a doorknob becomes “an innovation in residential access.” Expose yourself repeatedly to the extrapolation of this practice to things more complicated than a doorknob and you really just need to carry Excedrin around with you all day.

While there are more examples, I will leave reading about them to you. Enjoy this informative and enjoyable post.

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