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Friday, February 13, 2009

Morals Report @ Parade Magazine...

...How Much Does The Meaning Of Words Matter?...
by David Bookout

Related Post: How To Build A Personal Brand...
Related Post: Words Matter...

While listening to 105.3FM this morning on the way back from taking my teenage son to school the DJ was talking about the recent Parade Magazine Intelligence Report On Moral Choices. The example he and his guests were having fun with was lying, and in the banter the word "ethically wrong" was used several times. What caught my attention was the way the word ethics was being used. Morals and ethics are two different things, are often confused, and have two different meanings as you can see below. But, what I think is most interesting is the large difficulty we have if lying IS overly common in a society. Because then lying IS the ethic of that society. Hmmm.

Being a linguist I think we always produce difficulty when we collapse definitions, or use words in a way that doesn't follow standard definitions. So, let's take a look at Merriam-Webster's OnLine Dictionary, and Wikipedia. I know it looks like I'm slighting Wikipedia, but when you click on the first link you'll see why I didn't add the definition.

MW -"Ethics" are "our standards for how we treat one another."

Wikipedia -"Ethics"

MW -"Morals" are "modes of conduct." This is how we actually treat people.

Wikipedia -"Morals"

MW -"Virtuous" is "being morally excellent."


Note the differences, and as my friend Kevin likes to observe, "note what's missing". Today it's cool to invent words, and last night I heard a fun one "Craptastic", which was used in a conversation about software design. A pretty obvious meaning, or is it !?

But, if we all have slightly different definitions for words how do we effectively communicate ?

From a team building perspective, here are few tips for managing this and communicating in a way that enhances velocity:

Create a team standard definition of key words. Private Wiki's can be good for this / these.

Create a team standard definition of key acronyms.

Be rigorous about these definitions, and work with others to ensure there is shared knowledge and use.

Have some fun inventing a few new words, and collaborating to create a collective definition.


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Morals Report @ Parade Magazine...", the subtitle "...How Much Does The Meaning Of Words Matter?..." and contents herein, unless otherwise specified in writing - by Effetti, Inc. are ALSO licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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