Subjective Communication

"Mommy, where did I come from?"

"Oh dear! Well, after dinner, we'll sit down and I'll explain it all to you."

"Okay. Because Jimmy said he came from Chicago."

Behind that joke lies a principle: whoever supplies the context supplies the meaning. Applying your personal context to what I say stops you from getting my meaning.

If I supply no context, then it serves me right. "Sam is cold" could mean that Sam is dead, unfriendly, chilled, efficient, unprepared, or something from teen slang. Without more information, it is an invitation to guess.

Many do not need an invitation; they guess at your meaning and cut you off in mid-sentence with a reply. Thatís the subjective approach to communication: there is no other context but mine, and your meaning is what I say it is.

Have you ever been asked for information, and cut off in mid-sentence before you could supply it? That was a demonstration of the absurdity of the subjective approach. It pretends to listen, but pays attention only to itself.

Ask a subjectivist what this method achieves, and your reply might be, "What method? I'm just trying to understand things the way I was taught." Translation: "I never learned an objective method, so for me all knowledge is guesswork."

What to do is: learn the objective method now.

To see differences without guessing, make comparisons. To see relationships without guessing, use similarity to sort things into objective concepts. To make evaluations without guessing, get all the evidence, and compare it to objective standards.

The methods of subjectivity are: make demands, ignore context, guess at facts. If they work, this is Utopia. If they don't work, they can be replaced with the objective methods identified by Ayn Rand. One place to start is by listening all the way to the end of every communication. That won't get rid of a habit of guessing, but it will improve the quality of the guess.

Once a subjective thinker learns how guesses can be made more accurate, subjective communication is seen as non-communication, and the hunt is on for a better method than guessing. The obvious thing to try is reason.

Next Essay Previous Essay Essays Index Home