Finished: Language in Thought and Action

Language in Thought and Action

In recent months I’ve come to believe, strongly, that it is communication, or rather the lack there of, that is the real cause of 80% if the world’s conflict. Time and time again it seems like the inability to communicate an idea clearly, or the inability to truly hear and understand what’s being said, leads to problems. Be it between family members or nations, in my opinion it’s failed communication of ideas, more than ideological differences, that lead to conflict.

Communication is difficult.

Hayakawa’s book is a classic, delving into some of the many issues relating to our use of language. In addition to making a fascinating follow-on to Cialdini’s book, Language in Thought and Action explains some of the many complexities of communication and why they exist, and how they come together as a basis for human communication. Symbols, pre-judgments, the many meanings of words and images, the social role of communication and more.

One of concepts that sticks with me the most is that of “Two Valued Orientation” – the “yes or no”, “if you’re not with me you’re against me” kind of thinking, and it so easily permeates so many, many situations that we’re not even aware of.

The book is a collection of essays, and tends to be somewhat dry – it was written by an academic, after all J. It’s not a light read, but it is an interesting one if you’re trying to figure out why people just can’t seem to understand each other, or why “violent agreement” is such a common state.