in System Change

Clear Thinking

In all communication find concrete words. Concrete words are essential to the discussion of issues.   The discovery of this information from a narrative or conversation is the best way to define problems.   Concrete words are; names of people; numbers and number words; dates (e.g. clock and calendar words); and words that point to one specific person (I, you, he, she, my, your, his, her).

A concept is usually abstract, as opposed to concrete.  The conceptual should be disregarded if it is not a product of the analysis or synthesis of facts and experience.  Concepts can be useful abstractions and powerful tools for thinking as long as they are backed up by references to people, things, and events.  In this way, a  “concept” is constantly subject to the expansion of meaning and delineation of detail.  Constant reference to what is concrete provides alternate settings for a broader understanding of relationships in new environments.

In the following “news release” highlight or underline these concrete words:

  1. Names of people.
  2. Numbers and number words
  3. Dates (e.g. clock and calendar words)
  4. Words that point to one specific person (I, you, he, she, my, your, his, her.)

Abstract words are made concrete by using a word from one of these four groups.  For instance, the word idea by itself is an ‘abstract’ word, but Rex’s idea, two ideas, or their ideas referring to a specific group of people such as MAS, makes the abstract word ‘idea’ a concrete word.

Some useful notes on applying this practice with a group will be found (here)

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