Mind Your Language

One of the key differences that humans have over the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to communicate at a very high level.

Like anything with increasing complexity, it can be a double-edged sword.

On the one hand it gives us more scope to explore the human experience on the other it opens the possibility of misunderstanding and misinterpretation and diminishing the experience for ourselves and others.

If we think of a conversation with someone as a dance. We can either dance freely and express ourselves or we can dance with restricted movements, depending on the dance floor.

If we use limiting language and words (such as absolutes including everyone, always, should and musts) that do not offer us or those we are speaking with, the freedom or space to openly and honestly express ourselves, it’s a bit like trying to dance in a phone booth.

On the other hand, if use more open language that allows us to delve deeper into what someone is trying to convey, without us limiting them, it is like dancing on a massive dance floor.

There is nothing wrong with limited language when it is a defined situation with clear outcomes.

The challenge comes when we are looking for solutions and broader thinking, we need our language to be commensurate with the outcomes we seek.

As we approach a desired outcome or solution, it then becomes more relevant to use tighter language.

I often describe this as a bit like a funnel. It starts of wide and open at the top, then as we get to the bottom it gets narrower in focus until popping through to the outside.

Next time you are looking for outside the box solutions to challenges or blockages, in your own or others situations in business or at home, remember to mind your language and keep it aligned with where you are at in the funnel.

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