Reformulate is the answer

(English) This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

In a conversation, there are four steps: "What I think, what I say, what the other hears, what the other understands". And between what I think, and what the other understands, there are usually many worlds.

So what derives from this is that as a listener, before I react to something that shocked me with strong words, I try to make sure that what I understood and what was meant are the same thing. As a speaker, being criticized for whatever I've said, I avoid going "gosh, you really don't understand anything" but rather go for the "hmmm, maybe I expressed myself wrongly in the first place" approach, and reformulate. Reformulate is the answer, especially in public forums, to avoid going all flame and personal.

It is a hard thing to keep in mind at all times, I find, but I've also found it makes communication much easier, when applied.

All of this rambling really to say that while cultural awareness is a very important thing, it rarely helps if basic communication skills are not taken into consideration. Reformulating and making sure we've understood is one of them. And it is, in my opinion, even more exacerbated in a diverse cultural background, and when the common language is not everyone's mother tongue.

See also edit