Good communication is highly underrated. If you want a job, you need to pass an interview. If you want to be a great manager, you need to inspire your employees. I would argue that there isn't a single situation that couldn't be improved with clearer communication. Yet, our formal education in communication ends, for most, when we're 16 years old.
The best communicators that I've met aren't those who use the fanciest words; they're the people whose thoughts on a subject are clear and logical. In light of this, I believe good communication can be subject-dependent. An amazing anatomy lecturer may have clear, logical communication in their field of expertise, whilst their communication in the mechanics of a car would be terrible.
With this in mind, I want to improve my communication of neurology, psychology and philosophy. I plan to do this through writing.
Writing to Formalise Thinking
"If you can think, and speak, and write, you are absolutely deadly.
Writing is thinking formalized. You gain the ability to think by first learning to write very, very carefully. Then, when you can write effectively, you can do anything you want, and no one will stop you."
— Jordan B. Peterson
Arranging the Chaos
The way I think is chaotic. When I'm interested in a topic I read books, listen to podcasts and watch videos. When I do this, my perspective on the subject becomes an amalgamation of the people I've listened to, rather than my own. I've not taken the time to battle with opposing thoughts, to understand the definitions of the terms I'm using, or to understand which thoughts are nested in others. That's where writing comes in.
Writing on a topic requires you to form a narrative from your ideas. This starts by introducing the topic, defining the words, presenting each side of the argument before outlining where you stand. When I'm thinking about a subject, I get distracted far too easily, derailing the thought before it's even begun. I hope that through writing my ideas down, it'll allow me to take them to completion.
When talking back and forth on a subject, my choice of words is sloppy. As long as the message is conveyed, the means by which I go about it matter very little. When writing, the opposite is true. Word choice is essential. Through writing more, I'm hoping that this will improve my choice of words when I speak.
What's (still) Missing
Today I got into a debate with a friend. Not a heated debate, a productive one. Challenging one another forces us to examine our views, and can often guide a shift in perspective. When I'm writing I miss this challenge. It's difficult to understand your own biases on a subject. Collaboration with others allows me to identify these and—attempt to—account for them, shifting my perspective and strengthening my thinking.
Writing is a powerful tool to improve your ability to think. It allows you to arrange your thoughts more clearly, improving your understanding of a topic and your subsequent communication of it. I'll be using it, alongside productive discussion, to get a deeper understanding of the topics I find most interesting. Give it a try, it might just work for you too.