Monday, February 7, 2011

YOU Understand What You're Saying

Have you ever tried explaining something to a person and, when you finished, only got a blank, confused look in return?  What happened?  Why didn't they understand what you said?  After all, you understood what you said.

Sometimes, the problem is exactly that: you already understand exactly what you are trying to say.  You will take shortcuts.  You can use abbreviation or technical terminology.  You can talk about a process, but not realize that not everybody knows how that process works.  If somebody doesn't know how gentrification works, then telling somebody "and then gentrification takes care of the rest" means nothing to them.

You can't be anything less than thorough in your descriptions.  Thorough does not mean tedious, nor does it mean hair-splitting.  It means making sure that people understand exactly what you are trying to say to them.  Part of this is knowing your audience.  The other part is erring on the side of overexplaining.  Writing is communication.  If you are poorly communicating, you are poorly writing.  So don't do it.

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