What’s in a Name?

What's in a Name?Plenty.

I would say it’s downright seductive to get caught up in the illusion that words actually mean something.

It’s one very effective way to stay out of synch with the experiences you are actually having in your life.

It seems, since the perception is that we can’t help but have experiences when we hear words that we think the words are causing them. But remember, the reality is that words are just pointers, they are triggers for a somatic (body based) experience, based on a particular association to the sounds that are being uttered or symbols that are heard or read.

It is common to think that because a word or set of words produces a particular experience in us, it does so in everyone else, in the same way. This is a false assumption – and the consequences can be anything from humorous to dangerous. Consider what it means to a British person who says “I was bloody gob smacked!” and what that same phrase means to an American. Likewise, “I was flabbergasted” would have little or no meaning to most Britons. Each reader is having a particular experience based a unique set set of physiological associations with the phrase.

While this is pretty easy to see with an example like this, it is more challenging when the words being written or spoken are describing something that most would consider as having the same meaning- like “I was really busy today” which meant to one person they got up, got to work, did several things, came home and to another cleaning up the house, taking care of a child, driving to get groceries. Both have said, “busy” yet the physiological experience is much different.

What does this have to do with decision making?

Again, Plenty.

To be a truly effective communicator is to consistently consider the other person or persons’ experience of the words you are using instead of assuming they are the same as your own.

You should be very clear as to the impact you are looking to create on others and decide on the approach and the choice of words you will be using from this standpoint.


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