The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Implicit and explicit

Those who call for clear communication often underestimate the effort it requires. They don’t see how much must be said and shared to reach clarity in the moment. They don’t see how much more work it is to keep some clarity as time passes by and a project evolves.

The main source for misunderstanding is the difference between implicit and explicit information. That is the difference between what is being shared and what is being assumed.

Neither implicit nor explicit information guarantee clarity or common understanding.

Shared and explicit information transform communication in many ways. They make it easier to know what the information is which has been made available. It’s information that opens a door for further communication by triggering questions people may ask themselves or others. The consequence of such questions is to uncover a misunderstanding or missing information. Regularly cycling through this process of informing and questioning builds trust. There is less reason for the fear of not knowing and having missed a piece of information.

Things are more complicated with implicit information.

Something that is implicit is assumed to either be common understanding or to have been said in the exchange. When people live by rules and principles they become so accustomed to them, that they presume them to be common understanding. Which is then the ground for expectations towards others. In contrast to this, there is also information we believe to have expressed. Most often, this is information that is built on the hopes and fears people have and which they are not used to state explicitly.

Clarity can then be perceived as the result of an ongoing process of sharing, questioning and verifying.


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