Opinion: Making words count

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In sitting through yet another four-hour Zoom meeting, we all become fans of the KISS principle – keep it simple, stupid! The notion that overly complex systems are less efficient and effective than their simpler alternatives first appeared in the United States between the great wars to be ultimately brought to prominence by the Navy in the early 1960’s.  Essentially, it advocated that a straightforward approach, in the absence of considerable evidence to the contrary, is always better than a convoluted one. Today, it covers any discussion or process whose complexity outweighs its productive value.

If we recognize this as a good general truth, can we take it too far? Is there a danger of spending too few words to make a point just as there is risk with too many? Sure, uncomplicated engineering, as originally envisioned by the Navy, still had to work. The device or plan required sufficient detail so that it could manage to accomplish the task it was assigned to address. Is proper communication that much different?

Is the simple yes or no answer enough with any more words becoming a distraction? Or is the binary response overly simplistic and unable to fully address an interrogatory? No matter how many times someone says a single word, it doesn’t make a sentence, or sense.  The “Guardians of the Galaxy” team member, a personified and charming tree, is only able to say, “I am Groot.”  He is a clever comic book character but not a nuanced orator. Context and pantomime matter, but are they able to carry the full message by themselves?

The first duty of communication falls to the communicator, and the second to the listener. So, as that communicator, is finding the right words leading the charge and the right number of words following up right behind?


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