[Articles on Communication][Freeing the Mind]


About what?

We are examining in this series the Being Specific Model. It is one model of communicating. It is concerned with making clear and real what the other is saying. It is deadly to communications intended to raise emotions and persuade without giving good reasons or evidence.


Later we will look at communication models concerned with persuasion and these often involve breaking all the rules of this model! There is nothing wrong with persuasive, emotion raising communications, but we are learning how to deal with them, so we are not deceived. This is one thing that the Being Specific Model does. Remember, it is deadly, and like all strong medicine should be used with care!

Thoughts, we are told by philosophers, are often about something. In communication we often omit or delete what we are talking about. Sometimes we do this to avoid being too clear, and to create a persuasive effect.

I feel sad.

Oh dear. About what, specifically?

I am getting mad.

About what specifically?

About you.

What about me, for example, is getting you mad?

I am thinking.

About what, for instance?

We must take immediate action.

About what, specifically?

Use your imagination!

About what, specifically?

Related to 'about what?' are:

For whom, specifically?

This is too much!

For whom, specifically?

This is a valuable skill.

For whom, specifically?

Words that say it all - or try to!

Very roughly, we can say that words refer to things - which you can see, feel, etc, or to ideas. When a noun refers to an idea, it has probably deleted a lot of stuff. For example:

You will learn a lot about communication on this course.

(Communication isn't a thing that you can see or feel!)

Who is communicating to whom about what, specifically? And how are they doing it?


When communication occurs, then one or more people or things are communicating to each other about something and in a certain way. The questions pull out the real meaning.

This is outrageous!

Who is outraged about what? And how exactly are they doing it?

I want peace.

Who do you want to be at peace with whom? About what? How exactly do you want them to do  it?

I want peace with myself.

Who or what is fighting with whom or what? Exactly how are they doing it?

Master, I want to be free.

Who, young monk, holds you in bondage. (This response is said to have caused the enlightenment of the Zen student!)

I want to be happy.

Who, or what is making you unhappy? How exactly are they doing it?

Instead of accepting the highly complex abstract word, we ask, 'Who or what is doing what to whom or to what? How exactly are they doing it?' We try to pull out one or more scenes and we ask the questions to discover the players and the action.

I have made a decision.

Who has decided what about what? How exactly did they decide?

I have achieved some understanding.

Who understands what? How exactly are they doing it?

Abstract words are not things. They must, if they are anything, be processes. Therefore, someone or something is doing something. And, to clarify the verb, what is being done, we ask, 'How exactly are they doing it?'

We live in a world of sensory experience. We see things, hear them, feel them, smell or taste them. Language sometimes takes us from what is real into the world of abstraction. We can sometimes make sense of abstract 'things' by bringing them down to Earth in the way we have demonstrated.

Keep practicing all of the Being Specific Model that you have learned so far. Practice to make your own thoughts clear. Be gentle on other people - unless they aren't being gentle with you!

Best wishes


Ken Ward

Please visit the New Life Course - and bring your Mind back to Life!

Freeing the Mind

Which doctors, specifically.htm (22/12/98)

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Most Recent Revision: 20-Mar-99.
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