Sharing the same dictionary

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Anthony Pica
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Sharing the same dictionary

Sharing the same dictionary

My marketing team was discussing a strategy for the next quarter. At the end of the call, everyone agreed a "virtual roadshow" was a good idea.

The next day, I sent a follow-up email and quickly discovered that everyone on the call had a different definition for "virtual roadshow."

Friction in the workplace (and at home) is often due to a misunderstanding. When communicating and trying to get a point across, it's easy to forget that other people don't have the same context.


  • If I tell my wife I'll fix the bathtub "soon," she might think I meant "today" when I actually meant "next week."
  • If a leader explains to their team, "we need to be more strategic in our approach," what does "strategic" mean from everyone's perspective?

The way someone defines a word or concept is an explanation of what they're thinking. Therefore, one path to finding common ground is to ask, "what do you mean by xyz?"

When discussing the "virtual roadshow" with my team, I didn't establish a shared definition. As a result, people were using the same term but had different interpretations, and it was as if the entire conversation was built upon a house of cards.

Keep in mind: We share the same vocabulary but not always the same dictionary.

As the stakes get higher, definitions become increasingly crucial for setting clear expectations and avoiding misunderstandings.

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