Assumed Understanding: A note on effective communication

© 2015 Warren Martin. All Rights Reserved.

© 2015 Warren Martin. All Rights Reserved.

In the short story often attributed to Earnest Hemingway, we find a unique perspective on understanding. The story in its entirety reads,

“For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.”

In six words a moving story is told, but what story?

I’ve asked many people what the story means, and everyone has a different take on it. To some it is of a stillborn child, others a miscarriage and still others an adoption that didn’t pan out.

In fact, most people’s understanding is shaped less by the words on the paper, than by the bias of the reader. It is most often our greatest fears and our personal experiences that shape our understanding of words being shared. We read our bias into what we are reading or hearing.

The danger comes when we assume that everyone else understands the same thing we do. That is rarely the case.

Great leaders have the ability to see the multiple ways their words and actions impact people. They contemplate the words, the delivery and where their audience is coming. They have the courage to walk in the shoes of others to foster true understanding.


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About Warren Martin

WARREN MARTIN is a philosophy graduate of Texas Tech University. He is an author, teacher, minister, artist, quasi-philosopher and speaker known for his unique teaching style. His passion is to share the grace of Christ and to inspire & invest in the next generation of leaders. Learn more here...