Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Michael Bissell's Blog

Over Explaining Things

2012-07-08 10:45:05
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I talk about really complicated stuff all day. It's my own fault for choosing the career that I'm in, but worse yet, I've chosen a career where I do a lot of "geek translation." If I have to hear the joke "It's all Geek to me" on more time... but let's leave that aside.

One of the things I love about going to the Interactive conference at SXSW is that I can talk native Geek. I don't have to slow down and explain what I mean by {something geeky}. But more importantly, I don't have to slow down and emphasize the importance {something geeky} over {something equally geeky}.

When talking to non-native Geeks, I find myself over explaining things, and, as a consequence, confusing the hell out of them. They want to jump to the, "but how do we solve this problem" without understanding that 1 + 1 in the geek world actually equals 10. But when I try explaining binary math to the digital mind and they start to look like Chekov when Kahn put that larvae in his ear...

But I digress... And that's the problem.

Human communication is built on a basic understanding. We have common references like Moonlight + Champagne = Romance. Unless you're a safety inspector in which case it Moonlight + Champagne = Accident waiting to happen... If I throw in the right metaphor as an aside, it can help move the conversation along, if I throw in the wrong one, it can completely derail communication and take us down a rabbit hole.

Star Trek is not the right metaphor in the board room, no matter how effective it was at the geekfest.

But it's not just common context -- I think I get myself into trouble is assuming people want the context. It's not really my place to teach trans-cultural math if I see a problem because a developer thinks 1+1=10 and an accountant thinks 1+1=-1,000,000. Going on a side jaunt in the conversation with the developer about depreciation is as useful as talking to the accountant about binary just like describing that scene in that movie reference to the suits just makes for long, uncomfortable pauses...

The oldest communications maxim is to Know Your Audience. And in these increasingly complicated times of technology, international business, and instantaneous communications, it's trickier to know your audience. Which means taking a little time to listen rather than explaining.

Hope I didn't over explain that...

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