Thursday, December 09, 2004

Values underlie effective communication

This article may strike readers of Squiggles as not fitting our theme, so let me remind you up front: our mission is the help people remember who they really are and effectively express that knowing. While we usually focus on effective expression in these pages, ignoring the first part would be a serious mistake. Austrian journalist Karl Kraus is reputed to have given this definition: "Journalist: a person without any ideas but with an ability to express them."

The term "values" gets tossed around a lot in an election year, with the intent of implying that the opponent has none. Most people mean "my values" when they talk about values. Beneath the mumbo jumbo, "what are your values?" means the same as "what do you think is most important?" In other words, asking "what are your values" and "what do you value" are the same.

We make and advocate choices based not just on fact, but on which of those facts we consider most important, as we've said elsewhere in Squiggles. To make such a choice doesn't mean we consider other facts unimportant. We just consider them of lesser importance.

This is true even when we don't realize it. An article in Wired made that point to me tellingly, and it doesn't even deal with communication or choice-making per se. Nevertheless, an understanding of "Why Nerds Are Unpopular" would help assuage much of the angst we all face in making our daily choices and communicating about them. It's worth your time to read the whole article. Go ahead, we'll wait.