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The Power of Shared Vocabulary

Two women talking over drinks
The Power of Shared Vocabulary

All the people I have worked with so far speaks English. For some it is a second language but for most it is a first language.

However, I have come to learn that we all have our own interpretations of words, especially creative words.

Realising not Everything is Clear

I have learnt the hard way that what someone means by the words that they say may not be what I think they are saying. I have also learnt that when someone says the words, they don’t actually know what they are communicating. This is where the power of a shared vocabulary comes into play. Firstly, the realisation that you are not communicating effectively is the first step to solving a whole range of problems.

The Power of Shared Vocabulary

So, I have learnt to ask questions.

When you say that emotional word can you give me a picture that you see when you think of that word?

Is that a positive or negative emotion for you?

Are there other words that can help you to explain that emotion?

I now ask for reference music and clear indicators of what part of the reference the person is focusing on.

Is it the overall emotion?

Is there any instrument sound or technique that you like?

Is there a particular section that you are focusing on?

Once I identify what they are trying to tell me I have a much better chance of achieving what they are hoping for.

There are so many possibilities that true communication can take a while to achieve and require patience on both sides. We live in a fast-paced world where patience is not a priority. “Get it done and get it done right first time” or there is something wrong with you. That is a message I have heard, both said or inferred.

Creating emotions is such a personal thing that there are many ways to approach the emotion. With so many possibilities available through technology, to have the clarity to start with gives you a fighting chance.

What do you Mean?

So, I will now sit with someone and ask what they mean? Get them to give me some examples and ask questions. What are they hearing? What do the words they are saying mean?

A first this can feel a little confrontational but with reassurance that I want to do the best job I can we will get to the true heart of what they are trying to communicate.

My experience is that when I haven’t done this I have created what I thought they wanted and have missed the mark. Then I ask the questions and create the vocabulary and do better.

When no Amount of Communication Helps

One last thought. Some people don’t know what they want and hope that you stumble onto it. These are the people who communicate and then don’t like the results again and again.

Sometimes the best communication is to end these collaborations. You aren’t bad at what you do. There was a lack of communication.

Trust me it happens. See it for what it is – a communication problem and not a talent problem and move on.

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