Why we think we understand and don’t know we don’t understand

People have to communicate to collaborate. Many people think communication is about sending and receiving a message.

What they don’t see is that to understand the message it has to be interpreted. Aldous Huxley has formulated the problem in a simple sentence: “Every man has his own universe”. We are a unique product of all the interactions in our life and a word has a different meaning to a different person.

A meaning is a unique interpretation of a message the other is sending. If we program a communication between a program and a human or a program to a program we encounter this problem all the time.

The interpretation needs a standard, a convention we agree on. This convention is learned by a human being and agreed upon when we program.

The big problem is that there are many conventions at the level of the human (called a culture) and in the programming community. Most of the time we don’t know what convention is used.

The effect is mis-understanding and this is exactly what happened between the programmer and the designer, the lady in the call centre and the software she is using and the lady in de call centre and the customer.

We think we understand but we don’t understand and the big problem is that we don’t know that we are mis-understandig. The only way to solve this problem is to start a dialogue.

Do you want to know what happens when the Dialogue is stopped?

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