image"If I were to talk to myself out loud in a language not understood by those present, my thoughts would be hidden from them."

-Wittgenstein; Philosophy of Psychology. 318

Have you ever spoken to someone and politely listened, then when you leave not a word was understood? They were speaking in English (or a language you understand) and what was said you just don’t understand. You would have been better off not talking to this person at all.

Why does that happen?

Does that happen on teams?

What can be done about that?

Here are some ideas;

  • – Use clear & distinct / Concrete terms when setting goals.
  • – Minimize the use of jargon and acronyms.
  • – Ask open ended questions, and allow for a response.
  • – Listen to how other people speak and argue their points and try to match your communication with theirs.
  • – Educate yourself and learn new skills in logic, language, rhetoric, civil discourse.
  • – When communicating tasks match the goals to their capabilities and time span for completing goals. For example if the person generally is measured and evaluated on daily production, then speak to them in terms that cover NO greater than 1 day. To speak to this person about 5 year organizational goals would be a foreign language.
  • – If speaking to people with longer time span for accomplishing goals talk in terms that make sense to them. For example if speaking with a Executive VP talk about 2 to 5 year impacts on the organization, to speak to a EVP about daily goals would be a foreign language.
  • – Acknowledge and Accept the fact that as we mature our understanding and language will also mature.


Share your stories of how you ensure that your message is being sent in the same language that the receiver understands.


michael cardus is create-learning

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