Communicate With Nouns, People!

Lives are short and people talk fast. More often than not, they talk too fast to be heard or understood. More than half of that, I’ve noticed lately, comes from a noun deficiency. People assume listeners understand who or what they are talking about and resort to using pronouns (or nothing at all) to frame the sentence. By doing this, you run the risk that listeners will think you are talking about something completely different.

“They’re pretty cool, aren’t they?” “What, spider monkeys?” “What?! No. Our stuff.” “Oh, I was thinking about spider monkeys. Wait, what stuff?” “Our products, dude. Are you listening to me?”

The subject plays an important role in a sentence and should NOT be glossed over. The ridiculous exchange above could have been averted with a better handle on the subject in the first question – “Our products are pretty cool, aren’t they?” In leadership and management, it’s on you to make sure people understand the context of your conversation – not the listener.

I received an email like this before and it boggled my mind: “Mike is trying hard, but Dan is just not up to it. Think we’ll need to let go.” What the hell does “need to let go” mean? Let go of what? Let go of the project? Let go of Mike or Dan? Let go of them both? If I acted on that email without confirming the object of the second sentence, I could have really messed things up. But whose fault would that have been?

Use nouns, people! It won’t sound silly; it will sound specific and productive. And whether listeners know it or not, they will appreciate it.

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