I was on the phone with my mother this week and she was telling me how difficult it is to effectively communicate with people today. “When I was younger, a word meant one or two things. Today a word can mean twenty five things. We never know what the other person is talking about,” she said. I was not exactly sure what she was getting at until I read a Harvard Business Review Blog post today called, “I Don’t Understand What People are Saying Anymore.” Dan Pallotta echoes my mother when he writes,” In about half of my business conversations, I have almost no idea what other people are saying to me.” Pallotta says people today are too abstract, overuses acronyms and meaningless expressions, and rely on slang.
My mother and Pallotta offer an important reminder about communication technique. In order to make an impact on others, we must be clear in our messages. Eliminate acronyms, stop saying things like “expand your reach” or “exceed expectations” without defined measures of how to do so, and cut back on what Pallotta calls “valley girl talk.” This is very important in the arts sector since we are constantly trying out new concepts and ideas and approaching projects in unfamiliar and creative ways. Somehow these new concepts must be portrayed in a manner that everyone can relate too.
Check out Pallotta’s blog post and listen for Abstractionitis and Valley Girl 2.0 during your day. How can we break down these barriers to communication?