Focused and Structured

This weekend I was at a dinner party where a couple told a story of the two of them being at a local restaurant and overhearing another person using the word literally over and over again. And just as if someone had yawned, I proceed to use the word over and over again throughout the night. It was funny at first, but then I “literally” got sick of hearing myself say it. I am not a linguist by any means, but I do know “literally” is one of those words that is over used and misused. I am now on the watch to keep myself from using and misusing the word.

I bring this up because this week I had a personal miscommunication between the leader of my business mastermind group and myself. It was only after several days did I even think that it could be a miscommunication, so I went back and reviewed the exchange.

I requested, via email, “I was wondering if we could focus on only one topic each week”.

The response, via email, “I like the free-form; that way we have more of a discussion vs a presentation.” And that paid version of mastermind would follow a specific structure using a specific methodology.

It just dawned on me this morning that perhaps the miscommunication was in the use of two simple words, focus and structure. I didn’t think I was asking for a presentation. I don’t even think I was asking for structure. Did I use the wrong word? I pulled up the dictionary for and searched both words.

fo·cus – noun

1. a central point, as of attraction, attention, or activity: The need to prevent a nuclear war became the focus of all diplomatic efforts.

struc·ture – noun, verb

1. mode of building, construction, or organization; arrangement of parts, elements, or constituents: a pyramidal structure.

After looking at the two definitions, I stand by my wording. But this led me to think how easy it is to be misunderstood in business when we all are recalling different meanings to the same word. Several questions popped up in my head.

Are we hiding behind mis-defined words or the wrong words to keep us from moving forward?

By doing this are we sabotaging our businesses and our own progress?

Are we misunderstanding our inner talk?

I don’t have the answers, but would love to “focus” on them if, you the reader, have any ideas.