Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

March 28th, 2011 // 3:43 pm @

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo da Vinci

leonardo da vinci
If this is true, and Leonardo was a bright guy, so it probably is, then why do so many people seem intent on making things complicated?

Well I have two thoughts on why people do it, one is to make themselves look clever and the second is just poor communication.

When we see long reports, or complicated visuals we are naturally impressed, as a lot of thought and intelligence must have gone into producing them, particularly if they are typed or even better, bound in a book. The fact that they are unintelligible to us we seem all too willing to accept.

Even to the point of not letting on we do not understand them. We do not want to show our ignorance it is part of our DNA. I went for dinner with friends recently and the waitress announced a fish special I had never heard of, so when she left I asked my very intelligent friends and wife what type of fish it was. No one knew and no one had asked for fear of looking silly, and by the way when we did ask it turned out she did not know either!

So experts make a living making things sound complicated because that is what impresses us, and we are slow to say I do not understand.

The second reason is just poor communication, every business, hobby and generation has it’s own abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon, and when we communicate to people outside our group we are not good at translating it into language they will understand.

So why are so poor at translation, firstly a lack of respect for our audience, if we cared more about them we would try harder to make our communication understood.

Secondly we have forgotten the first rule of communication. If you are trying to communicate something and the other person does not understand, it is your fault not theirs.

Ultimately we get long unintelligible answers because we are too easily impressed and intimidated by them.

And because sadly there are too few great communicators in the world that can sum up their message in a simple universally understood phrase.


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