The meaning of words

Sent by Jonathan Stark on May 22nd, 2018

Words can mean different things to different people. If we hope to communicate our message to others using words, it’s critical that everyone involved agrees on the meaning of the words being used.

This is no small feat.

We live in a global community and communicate at the speed of light with folks all over the world who have wildly different backgrounds, biases, political views, religious beliefs, and of course, language skills.

(Aside: I often get replies from folks on this list for whom English is not their first, second, or sometimes even their third language. This impresses me to no end. Whenever someone apologizes because their English isn’t perfect, I think “No need to apologize! My [insert literally any language other than English] is nonexistent!”)

Because of the importance of agreeing on the meaning of words, one of the first things I have new coaching students do is read through my student glossary.

It describes precisely what someone in my community means when they say “cost” or “strategy” or “project” or a hundred other words and phrases that have different meanings in general use (or even in different contexts within the coaching community).

For example:

I invite you to peruse the glossary here:

It’s a living document so please send in questions, comments, and suggestions in an effort to get us all a little more on the same page 🙂👍



P.S. Hey, can you do me a favor?

If you’ve ever recommended me to someone, can you go back and find the exact language you used, and then forward it to me? (anonymized, of course)

I only ask because I’m preparing to revise my website and I’m curious what language people actually use to describe me and my work to their friends.


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