Communication Lessons from the Deaf

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by: John Caddell

Is it possible that losing one sense can improve one’s ability to communicate? Aerospace consultant Bruno Kahne asserts this in an amazing article in the magazine Strategy + Business ("Lessons of Silence").

Deaf people focus intensely on whom they’re talking to face-to-face, they don’t mince words, and don’t interrupt. As a result, writes Kahne, they communicate must more efficiently than hearing people.

Here’s one of a number of startling passages in a very short article:

Deaf people are direct. This is why people with hearing sometimes perceive sign language as blunt to the point of rudeness. It’s not. It’s just explicit. The deaf tend not to hide behind soft language, struggling to find the most diplomatic wording and hoping that the listener will be able to discern what they “really” mean.

I’ll be reading this article again and again, and working to employ these techniques. Let me know if I’m communicating more clearly, won’t you?

(Hat tip to Doc Searls for pointing this piece out.)

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