It’s no secret that communication is the cornerstone of human society. Whether you are discussing great philosophical ideas, or just ordering a sandwich a human must be able to communicate. However, it seems as though many people are lacking in this area which can be highly frustrating for other people and even themselves. To remedy that, this has been written.
This will start by explaining all the key principles of effective communication no matter the format. The first two principles will be the most important with the rest not being in any particular order. I will afterwards describe what should never be done in conversation, almost like dialogue taboos.
Reduce everything down to simplest form. Instead of throwing up a bunch of technical terms which can be confusing to people who aren’t you instead bring everything down as though you were speaking to someone who knows nothing. I will now give two examples of two different ways this can manifest. Using RNA and Chemical bonds. Two subjects which most people while probably knowing by name are unlikely to know specifics about.
“A chemical bond denotes the interaction between atoms
with partially filled electronic valence bands, resulting in the formation of compounds characterized by unique chemical and physical properties. It is initiated through electron sharing, transfer, or redistribution, facilitated by the electrostatic attraction between positively charged atomic nuclei and negatively charged electrons, ultimately aiming to achieve a lower overall energy state.
“A chemical bond is the force that holds atoms together, enabling them to combine and form new substances with distinct properties.”
“RNA is a Nucleotide which isn’t a double helix and is responsible for Manipulating Various Proteins and phosphate groups based of Predetermined Genetics which are received via a specific type of RNA known as mRNA which itself gets genetic information from the nucleus.” All of that is technically correct however, unless you already know what a lot of those words mean you’re not really going to gain any useful information from it. But now If I reduce it to
simplest form, we end up with this.
“RNA stands for Ribonucleic acid. It is closely related to Deoxyribonucleic acid better known as DNA. While DNA functions like a blueprint for cells and all the other necessities for living things, RNA functions more like a middleman. They go to the nucleus of cells which is where the DNA is stored and use the information on them to build proteins and other things needed to sustain life and build cells. Without RNA, DNA Is useless. DNA is often depicted as having two lines that fold over each other in a shape called a helix with many bars connecting the two sides together. RNA is depicted similarly however it only has the one Line and the bars with nothing for them to attach too. As such it is not a double Helix but instead a single Helix.”
The first example with Chemical bonds made things understandable by simply not adding in unneeded Details and scientific terms which need their own explanation. The RNA example instead kept in most of the more complex things however explained them all but led to a much longer Paragraph. Both of these are perfectly valid however should be used depending on the situation.
The RNA example applies to situations where a full understanding of the thing in question is required such as if you need to know all this additional information to properly use it. Whereas the Chemical bond example would apply for situations where you mostly just need to know the result but not the why such as if you just needed an answer to something.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t use great big words such as “salubrious”. However, it is important to make sure the words are actually understandable. As such people that don’t know the words won’t be confused. For example, salubrious means “health-giving; healthy.” So, someone might say “I have a very salubrious night last night.”. If you do not know what Salubrious means, then that won’t make much sense to you. However, if they instead said, “This new medication has been very Salubrious to me I’m very glad.” This transfers the information that Salubrious is something good. This leads nicely into the next principle.
Context. Context is of course very important to everything even one word can be the difference between truth and falsehoods. For normal conversation it is normally not that pressing a concern though. One of the best ways to give clear and only relevant context is with “when”, “where”, and “why”. Like before I will give the same scenario but one without When where and why and the second with.
“That mountain is extremely irritating to Hike up. I refuse to go back.”. The person who this hiker is talking too will have to ask several questions to get more information before the conversation can truly move on. Without the context it does not communicate the flaws of this mountain well. The person he is talking too does not know which mountain he is talking about or any other information about it.
Here is that same hiker only now with When, Where and why. “That mountain about fifty miles north of here (Where) I think it was called mount Unoriginality, I was hiking up it two weeks ago at eleven am (When). However, I refuse to go back as there were so many thorn bushes, I could barely step anywhere without trampling over one. (why)” Because the Hiker told the other person “Where”, the other person can now make an informed decision about mount unoriginality. Because the Hiker said “when” It gives him the information that the problems were caused by anything time related as Elven am, is prime for daylight and as such vision. The hiker also gave “why” This informs the other person of the reasoning behind the hiker’s dislike of the mountain. The other person who the Hiker is talking too can now respond in any of a hundred ways however to the paragraph without the When, Where and why he would have to ask for the context as such delaying the conversation.
This is of course just an example of all three being used, When, Where and why should be followed almost always, of course there are exceptions in which giving context just isn’t needed or only need one or two of the when’s, where’s and why’s. There are also other context’s which might be needed however much less frequently.
Some people specifically want to be asked these kinds of questions and while that is valid, for reducing the probability of monologues it is not super effective, as you can’t really predict with certainty what kind of questions the other person will ask. And just because of the nature of human conversation it will likely be derailed from the original point fairly fast, leaving the other person with not a complete picture of what was trying to be communicated. Like everything in life communicating is a skill, and giving context without massively increasing the length of the dialogue does take practice.
It’s human nature to just assume that people have the same thought patterns we do. Even if you don’t consciously think this your subconscious probably does. In reality, very few people share thought patterns. As such when wording things take special care to assume that the other person thinks exactly the opposite way you do. This is of course more individualistic than other rules but is none the less important. By doing this you will probably be more convincing since you will be writing or saying something that makes sense not to just you, but also your exact opposite.
This one is much less of an exact science and vaguer than previous principles, it also isn’t as important as the first two. This would be an optimal time to reiterate that these are not in any specific order of importance beyond the first two which are the most important.
This one is either used or not used depending on situation. However, I will go over it in both cases. This rule is about abbreviations and acronyms. With the spread of the internet speaking casually with Acronyms and Abbreviations has become very common. Popular acronyms like “hru” instead of “how are you” might even be more common than the full words themselves. It might seem at first that these make conversations move faster and more efficient, but this is inaccurate. For you see, the time it takes for the brain to read the acronym and then translate it into a full sentence in the brain will almost certainly take longer than it would if the sentence was just written down. It also is problematic for people who don’t know the acronyms and those who cannot identify them as easily as most people.
Another problem with them isn’t so much communication wise as it is, reasoning wise. Have you ever wondered why humans say things like “how are you”, “thank you”, “please”, “your welcome”. We don’t really gain anything from them and just take time away. Well, the reasoning is actually simple, it is actively taking the time away which gives them meaning. Saying “your welcome” is really saying “you are worth the time and effort to take time out of my life for you, and I symbolise it with these words.” However, abbreviating that to “yw” changes it to “you are worth only two letters.”. This defeats the purpose of the words, entirely.
What about using Letters instead of words? Such as “who r u” Well, the reason language is structured the way it is, is why we shouldn’t speak like that. The way brains are set up not only will it have to translate it into the full word it also probably won’t read it entirely correctly. Even those “are” and “r” sound similar there are slight differences between them, and our brains are designed to pick up on subtlety. Even a person that is used to using and reading sentences like this will still have these shortcomings as they are human shortcomings. The more they are used, the more they degrade language. The same follows for Emojis, and emotions and really all internets speak. Despite some people saying they transfer emotion, they do not. Since they are also exaggerated it is not useful even if they hypothetically did. Since Emojis are almost always placed at the end of messages it would flow as “message then emotion” instead of “emotional message”. Correct wording can transfer emotion well enough as is. Because they also do not look like letters, they break up a sentence making it much harder to processes especially if they are used multiple times during a sentence leading to incorrect pacing in reading.
Abbreviations can also and perhaps even more so break up a sentence and mess with pacing. Such as the abbreviation “ppl” instead of “people”. At first it might not seem so extreme they are hypothetically pronounced the same. However, “ppl” is pronounced internally much shorter, as such it does not act like a word, but like a sound. Words are formatted the way they are so that they can maintain consistency with very short pauses at the end of sentences. But now with abbreviations like “ppl” its like another pause mid word almost like an internal tongue twister.
A sentence with “ppl” might be written like this “yesterday there were some ppl throwing bricks at me.”. However, it would be read like this “yesterday there were some p- [Brain thinking] peopil… Throwing bricks at me.”. Quite inefficient is it not?
Because of those reasons one should never really use acronyms or abbreviations, or any internet speak in place of casual conversation. But what about the times they not just can, but should be used? Well, I will go over it now and I in fact have already demonstrated it earlier.
One should use acronyms or abbreviations in situations where everyone is aware of what they mean and are used for professional reasons. For example, the military and scientific fields are prime examples of this. In the military where often times emails and reports can be filled up over half the time of just acronyms and abbreviations evidently, they must be useful. It wouldn’t make sense for somebody to say something like “The Demilitarized zone’s early warning system was severely damaged at noon this morning.” It makes more sense to say, “the DMZ EWS was damaged at 12:00”. If the person reading this was not aware of any of these acronym’s it would be easy for them to find it out given how a military is structured.
The Scientific fields are the same. It wouldn’t make sense for someone to say something like “Messenger Ribonucleic acid.” Instead of “mRNA”. These actually make things more efficient instead of convoluted which is what they do in casual conversation. This also extends to words made out of Acronyms such as “GPS” instead of “global positioning system”.
Try to speak as literally as possible, Metaphors and really all figures of speech and be interpreted different ways and also require an internal translation. It is also much more descriptive to just describe reality. This is not a solid rule as often times it is hard to do this or hard to describe reality. I myself often fail at this rule and so while not an especially important rule, it is still something to remember.
Furthermore, a figure of speech are very often times somewhat literal. Like saying “That Place Is a Zoo”. It could be just some guy who has a lot of pets, or it could be a literal zoo. The person on the other side as such might get the wrong interpretation. To prevent this, just say things as they are “Andy has too many pets to have our meeting there”.
This should be simple but speak in complete sentences. Responding to things with only one or three words is not useful unless it is something like “yes” or “no” but in an actual discussion it is not transferring nearly enough information.
If you are speaking on something like discord or a text message chain, then you also want to speak in full sentences or paragraphs, in one message. Instead of many small messages one right after another of only a few words. Not only will that be fragmentary, but it will also likely make the speaker’s phrasing lose structure and ultimately confuse the other person. I suppose you could consider confusing the other person as failure in communication. This rule is especially true online since we can re-read things, we find confusing initially however in real life, we only have the one chance, as such you want to have each of your points be self-contained for simplicity.
This isn’t so much a rule as it is a reminder or recommendation. This is that “whoever you are speaking to might be having what is objectively the worst day of their entire life even if you don’t know it or it hasn’t happened yet.”. This is especially important for strangers as with people you know well enough you can often tell and can modulate your wording for them. This also goes the other way in that if you talk to someone enough even if they communicate badly, you might be able to somewhat understand them than had it be a stranger.
What should never be done in Conversation
These should be fairly simple, but despite that people keep doing them.
The first thing that should never be done, is cutting other people off. If you cut people off from talking, then you don’t really know what they were getting at all you have are your own assumptions. This leads to yourself not having a complete idea of what they were trying to tell you and the other person is bitter and not being allowed to speak. No one gains anything.
This is often done because people think they know better than the other person and as such don’t value what they say and as such don’t think it’s worth hearing them out, even if this is all unconsciously thought. I don’t think I need to say that this is incredibly arrogant because that should be very obvious.
The second thing that should never be done, is “because I say so”. This is basically only said to either people’s children or to people’s subordinates. Even if it is not exactly worded like that it is the result is the same. Once again, no one gains anything from this. People will work almost always without exception better when they know the reason behind things. Imagine if the person who invented the water wheel was trying to market his invention to investors and said “it works because I say so” instead of “it works because of gravity and-“ Etcetera. Those hypothetical Investors are much more probable to back the water wheel when they know how it works, since they now know it is reliable and doesn’t need anything unfamiliar and can easily be improved. The investors get a water wheel, and the inventor gets money, everyone’s happy. Instead of the “because I say so” inventor who gets no investors no money, and the investors who do no investment and get no product, No one’s happy.
Another example might be someone who works in advertising. They are told by their boss to make an advertisement poster for a car themed around the colour blue. The designer asks for more details such as why but is just told “because I say so”. After spending hours working on the design, he presents his work, and the boss is outraged. Yelling that the colour blue was because it was meant to compete with another companies’ campaign which Used blue in a very specific way and as such, they also wanted to use blue similarly which this design did not use. However, if the boss just said that originally it would have completely avoided this and gotten the design, he wanted the first time. Once again, nothing is gained from saying “because I say so”.
The only time it is really acceptable is in something like a military situation where soldiers need to know only the minimum to prevent the spill of information to enemies. In basically all other instances it should never, ever be said.
But why? Why do people keeping saying this? Well, the reason is mostly because they are either angry or don’t want to explain, feel themselves superior to other people, just assume other people already know. But what I think might be the biggest reason, especially in casual conversation is that they don’t actually know the answer and don’t want to look stupid. However, they don’t seem to realise that looking stupid, is far better than looking arrogant. Even then not knowing the answer to one question isn’t going to make you look stupid.
The third thing that shouldn’t be done is just leaving halfway though without notice. This is kind of hard to do in real life so mostly just applies to online communication. It should be self-explanatory as to why, but it makes people forget what they were wanting to say and also is highly frustrating to people. The key to avoiding this is, making sure you only initiate a conversation when you know that you have the time to have one.
Like all things in life, communicating is a skill and will require practice and knowledge to do effectively. These apply to all forms of auditory and written communication, written letters, text messages, formal debates, just speaking to some guy on the street and all the other times communication is needed. Eventually after enough time, one will form sentences like this, without even realising it.
The first two principles are the most important part of this entire article. To reduce things to simplest form and to provide context. It does not matter who you are speaking too even if they were three, or one hundred and three. If you follow these then not only will other people be less confused when speaking to you but also you yourself might be able to better understand your own dialogue as often times, we know what to say, just not how to say it. These will help in how to say things.
I myself, follow all of these and also several others that are not needed and just my personal choice. Such as assuming that everyone believes everything they say and that no one believes anything I say. Many of us will also have similar customs in our speech, and this is of course just human nature. But it is also of course, human nature to communicate and be communicated too, and for that this article is for. I suspect that many of you already do some of these things without even realising it.