Monday, February 2, 2009

Words are 7 % of communication

Want to see a simple example of how communication through words is so challenging?

I asked a group last week to think of a chair. Then we went around the room and each person described the chair they thought of - look at this list:

a winged chair with arms
a wooden chair with arms
a chair with leather padding that is solid with no creaking
the chair I am sitting in
a plain straight backed chair
antique rocker with cushions
stress less - relax the back chair
two chairs - one cane backed and the other the kind in an ice cream parlor
two chairs - one straight backed and one a rocker
my favorite leather chair
a chair big enough for two
a leather chair with an ottoman
I see a chair that is in a bar that has a saddle on the top
an aeron ergonomic chair
an adirondack chair

So how might this inform our communications? Think about all the other terms we use that we assume everyone has the same meaning for. I've been working on a lot of strategic planning projects and it became clear after awhile that there are just as many different ideas of what strategic planning is as this list of chairs.

Examining our assumptions about what we mean by words that we are using - may help us realize how to communicate more clearly.

What's your chair? Post a comment.

Cassandra at

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