A while ago, there was some kind of difficulty understanding why we (the DBAs) and another group were unable to read the same words yet not draw the same conclusion. The words in bold are what I wrote on my white board explaining why there was a difficulty.


  • Vocabulary
    • Standards: Words have agreed upon meanings which we refer to as the definition. However, the same word can have different meanings depending on context. Therefore we need…
    • Experience: Past usage by self and others determine which definition is appropriate during any specific event.
      • Mental Filters: We cannot handle everything which happens to us at once, so our brains cheat. Filters drop everything except the expected. Which filters are in use to expect certain things can be as easy as beginning a conversation with certain keywords.
      • Recall: Getting past the filters gets to memory retrieval.

A lack of common experience means we get primed for different mental filters. Therefore to have a good conversation, everyone needs to draw on common experiences, a process called framing.

This is pretty much as far as we got, I think.

Common experiences could be physically shared. An example could be: “Do you remember the meeting 7 months ago when discussed changing the sourcedid.source for those four schools?” The mental filters for concepts discussed in that meeting are primed.

Common experiences could be metaphorical. Anything someone else should have lots of experience using makes a useful way to convey information without having to go very far. Unfortunately, it is hard to know in advance how much someone actually knows.

1 thought on “Communication”

  1. I believe the differences in experiences are why collaborative research in science works so well. Each member of the team brings a different perspective to the discussion table. The key is having a discussion where the participants are open to each others views even when the disagree. The process of discussion should provide a way to test a variety of hypothesis, and from the results come to a better understanding of what is happening. This may not be the ‘true’ way it happens, but it should be closer then the previous model. We are each the ‘sum total of our experiences’, and as Aristotle said “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

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