Nuance Communication

Becoming sensitized to the Nuance Communication of others is important.

Most of the words and sentences we use each day are universally understood. When a person says: “I am hungry” he or she usually wants to eat. If someone says: “I am sleepy” he or she is usually ready for a nap, or retiring if it’s late in the evening.

But, there are many words and statements that have multiple meanings and different levels of importance. Much of the difficulties in communication are understanding and handling these communication nuances. Lets explore further.

If three people say, “I work hard at my job,” what does this mean?

For one person it may mean going to work on time and doing the minimum that is required. For a second individual it may mean working a forty-hour week with a lot of effort, but shying away from overtime. And, for a third person it may mean working passionately sixty to eighty hours a week (or more) with little time for outside activities.

All three people are sincere in their statements, but the meaning of the words is significantly different for each individual. Each person’s boss, co-workers and family members will also have their own take on what “working hard” should mean.

Our interpretation and understanding of words and statements drives our perceptions and expectations of ourselves and of others. This in turn drives our actions and reactions with everyone who we interact with.

A tremendous number of words and statements have wide arrays of meanings. Assuming that the words and statements that we use have the exact same meanings for others frequently leads to misunderstandings, disconnects and frustrations.


Digging deeper into nuance communication

Not only does every person have a different nuance communication style; every major profession has its own customized language to communicate with.

Business, engineering, law, medical, marketing and accounting are examples of professions each with their own exclusive language.

Many of the words and phrases within a particular profession have distinct meanings. Also, many of these same words are used in other fields with different (and sometimes completely different) meanings.

Since we interact constantly with people from other professions at work and in our personal lives these differences add more complexity to our communication with others.

For example, some of the words that are commonly used in mechanical engineering are: force, friction, load, fatigue, stress and strain. In the field of psychology many of these terms have different meanings then they do in the engineering field.

Stress in engineering means A load per unit area.
Stress in psychology means A state of mental or emotional strain.

There are many examples of words and phrases that have unique meanings in different professions.

With all the differences in the meanings of words and phrases between people and between disciplines, it’s no wonder that communication can be difficult. Disconnects and misunderstandings continually lurk in the shadows.

Listening more closely, asking clarifying questions, and fully appreciating that we all view the world and people a little differently helps minimize communication disconnects and misunderstandings.


Improving Nuance Communication

Become more sensitized to what people say helps minimize poor communication.

This is done by becoming more observant of facial expressions, body language, tone of voice and so forth. This awareness will help you to distinguish when a misunderstanding occurs due to nuance communication.

Then you can ask respectfully probing questions to help reduce these misunderstandings.

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