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Business Phrases To Keep In Mind, Part II

 “Lack of specificity is the enemy of progress.”

How many conversations do you get into that wind up resolving nothing and both people walk away angry, or at least unconvinced or misunderstanding your point of view?

Johnny Hart, the author of the comic strip BC portrays this problem very well in his occasional cartoons called The Curse Exchange. Two cave men walk up to a rock with the words “Curse Exchange” inscribed on it. They each mutter a vague insult to the other and walk away-nothing is resolved and everyone feels bad. If you want to get things resolved, then there is a question you can keep asking (calmly:) “What do you mean by that?” or “Please me understand what you really mean by that.” If you keep asking the question, you have a chance to get the other person down to a level of detail where a decision or a resolution of the true differences is possible. The more specific you can get the conversation to be, the greater the chance for some form of understanding or agreement. Sometimes you may feel the effort is not worth it. But many times it can be interesting and illuminating for all involved. The question is a basic building block of problem solving. So next time you are in a potential Curse Exchange try the question.