Sunday, January 18, 2004

Mr. Smarty Pants

Do I need to talk about what happens when we assume? I catch myself doing it all the time. I'm trying not to let it bother me when other people make assumptions about me. When they try to complete my sentences, when they say "yea, yea, yea," when they react to their interpretation of what I say or do believing that they know exactly what I meant or why I did it. It gets tiring dealing with someone who isn't listening to you but is rather listening to themselves listen to you. I try to verify my interpretations. I try to ask questions first. I try not to state my interpretation as fact. It seems to me...It sounds like you are saying...As far as I can tell...Do you mean...Are you talking about...Is that like... Prematurely formed impressions are hard to change afterwards. Don't set the mold until you have seen the subject from all sides. Keep your opinion open and on the table. The trouble with language is that it is an abstraction of reality. It is lossy communication, simplified classification, and the illusion of true understanding. A poor communication channel requires sending the message multiple times, sending the message multiple ways, or a very structured message format and communication context that allows for error checking. The message is not your words, the message is a piece of you, the words are just how you are trying to send it. Good science allows that any new data point may support or contradict the current reigning hypothesis and may help lead to the next hypothesis. True understanding of another perspective is impossible, the best we can do is to try to get as close to it as we can. Don't be an arse Mr. Smarty Pants and I'll do my best to avoid being one too.

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