The Process is the Point

The goal of communication isn’t always to make sure people “get the point.” There are more reasons for speaking and writing than being straightforward, literal, direct, and completely invulnerable to the possibility of misunderstanding. Sometimes, the most powerful forms of communication are those that provoke us to further contemplation without telling us exactly what to think.

Becoming an effective listener involves enduring the dissonance of “not getting it” right away, learning to ask intelligent questions, and figuring out how to charitably and creatively interpret words in order to see the different ways concepts can be understood and used.

Peppering the things we say with a shower of prefaces, disclaimers, and qualifications can stagnate the learning process as much as it can help mitigate confusion. Yes, the communicator must serve the audience, but part of what needs to be served is an invitation for the audience to embrace the risks and rewards of learning how to wrestle with ideas.