There’s a set of words deeply rooted in our everyday lexicon that, on the surface, seem to make our lives simpler – “just”, “easy”, and “simply”. We tend to use these words to demystify complex situations, impart advice, or share knowledge. But are we aware of the less apparent impact these words can have on others, especially those intimately familiar with the subjects we are simplifying? The impact of these seemingly benign words on interpersonal communication and understanding can be significant and is worth examining.
The words “just”, “easy”, and “simply” tend to oversimplify and trivialize complex issues or processes, and in doing so, can inadvertently discount another person’s experiences or knowledge. By saying “it’s easy” or “just do this”, we may not realize that we are implicitly undermining the intricacies, challenges, and the depth of the topic or problem at hand.
Consider a situation where a seasoned engineer tells a novice, “It’s easy, just follow these steps”. What’s easy for the engineer, with years of experience, may be overwhelming for the beginner. By using “just” or “easy”, the veteran inadvertently trivializes the breadth of their own experience and knowledge while potentially discouraging the novice who may be struggling to understand.
From a psychological perspective, this kind of language usage can be discouraging and disheartening. It can create a barrier to effective learning and growth. When someone hears that something is “easy” or they should “just” do something, they may internalize a perceived inability to accomplish the task. If it’s so “simple”, why are they struggling? Such feelings can erode confidence and foster a detrimental belief that they lack ability or intelligence.
In business and professional settings, it can foster a culture of disrespect and dismissal. Using “just”, “easy”, and “simply” can often understate the effort, time, and skills required to accomplish tasks or projects. It can result in underappreciating the work involved and the people doing it. This language minimization can ultimately lead to demotivation, decreased productivity, and a decrease in morale.
So, what can we do to mitigate these impacts? The answer lies in fostering a culture of empathy, respect, and clear communication. Acknowledge the complexity inherent in most tasks and projects. Avoid the temptation to use minimizing language that oversimplifies. Instead, encourage an open dialogue about challenges, complexities, and difficulties. Use language that respects and appreciates the depth of knowledge, expertise, and effort involved.
Remember, every expert was once a beginner, and every task has its hidden complexities. The more we strive to respect these truths in our language, the better we can foster a positive and encouraging environment for learning, growth, and collaboration.