Not the Point

Brief Points on Communication #2

Dialog is two people saying words. The Point of dialog is an agreed-upon shared result (often unstated). That said, many dialogs lose the Point because of Tangents. Here is the only reminder you ever need to stick to the Point.

Everything said in a dialog will be a proportion of Tangents and Points. The Point is what brings the result closer.

For example, in trying to be helpful while making dinner together, your partner asks, “Where are the ingredients?” This is part of the Point. Everything else is a Tangent. For example, “You are so disorganized.”

You fail less if you assume the Point of any word is different for both sides. Again:

During the dialog, a word said is not always the same Point or Tangent as it is heard.

Your partner may feel that the sarcastic afterthought is part of a larger Point. Having already put the ingredients in the pot, you may feel everything your partner said was a Tangent.

You have two options on your turn:

  1. The Point. Assume the Point you heard. Ignore what appears to you or your partner as a Tangent. Speak toward your own Point. “Here’s the spoon if you want to stir the ingredients.”
  2. The Tangent. To talk about the Tangent is a blatant failure of the dialog. Request to dialog the Tangent later, and/or quit the current dialog.

All dialog is a Tangent to a result. All Tangents are either a less clear Point, or an example of this essay. Stick to your Point so you can get back to life.


Examples of Not the Point

3. The Point


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