Windows on the Words

Creating common Ground with common sense

The World of Words

"Every word is a prejudice". How right was Friedrich Nietzsche when he said that! Words don’t have the same meaning even for the people who speak the same language – imagine when they speak different ones - and many problems, conflicts, wars, religious schisms, family explosions, and strikes can be explained by the different interpretation of the meaning of words and by the difference in emotions they generate. Dictionaries are a collection of fixed definitions, often late to adapt to the latest meanings of words and expressions so… is it possible to change that and how?

Windows on the Words

Our windows on the words are usually not all ours! They are the result of many factors: our family, our Culture, our “Exducation”, “our religious affiliation, our gender etc. So, a first good move is to become aware of that, do the necessary windows “cleaning” and “opening”! When it comes to groups, a “common panoramic window” could be defined as a surface inside which words have the same meaning for each person located within that surface. Each word and expression would be perfectly understood by everyone, thus eliminating forever questions like “What do you mean?”.

The process exists! The Inuits have over 30 words and expressions to describe Snow and Ice so that, if a hunter going out asks a hunter returning from hunting “How is the snow and the ice?” he will get a precise description of the thickness, the resistance, the strength, the temperature, the risks of stalactites breaking due to exposure to the sun etc. etc. just as if Life depended on those details. And it probably does! What we have done in certain groups and organisations is use the Inuit Approach and ask people to establish their own personal list of words they consider as important. Words like Respect, Power, Authority, Rewards, Compliments, Communication, Pyramid, Silos, Errors, Creativity, Innovation, Happiness etc. We take the time it takes to reach a common meaning for all. This has many advantages such as easing of tensions through a creative and cooperative process designed to create authentic Communication and Understanding, shared Intelligence and constructive dialogues. In other words, better “re”-unions, because “union” has been created at the start. Trust is there, and everyone has the Courage to express feelings and points of view in constructive ways, exempt of Fear, Anger, Resentment and Sabotage.

We encourage your definitions to be bold, original, creative and illustrative of situations experienced by you and people around you. In future issues, we will share some definitions we have developed from experience. It would be great if you could send us yours and suggest words you would like to explore definitions of. And we want to thank you in advance for cooperating to the creation of what might be called The Web-sters Wordbook.