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Do you see what I mean?

by Carol Rozwell  |  January 30, 2014  |  1 Comment

So often we use this expression as punctuation to a statement we’ve made.

“This is how I see it. (Insert declarative statements here) Do you see what I mean?”

It’s interesting that we use the word “see” when we ask whether the listener understands what we’re talking about, especially considering that quite often we are only using verbal statements or written text to express our point of view. Rooted in the use of the word “see” is an important notion. People really do need to see – meaning they must be able to visualize – what we are talking about in order to understand it. Real engagement and commitment – “buy-in” in corporate buzzword speak – requires comprehension on both an intellectual and emotional level.

This intense involvement is not always necessary, of course. In our professional lives there are plenty of situations where a worker simply needs to understand on an intellectual level what needs to be done. If I need to meet a client, the facts about where and when will suffice. However, if I’m meeting with a client to help them plan how to make their social networking initiative successful, then another level of understanding is necessary. They must be able to see, feel and internalize what I am suggesting, to visualize the concepts and interact with them on an emotional level. Without this additional cognizance, the understanding of the intentions behind a statement is reduced.


As we learned in the Socially Centered Leadership maverick research, communication that conveys intent is critical for employee engagement. A number of renowned business writers such as Gary Hamel, Daniel Pink and Jim Collins also cite the need for goals to resonate with employees, particularly during times of organizational change. This means that the language used to describe the change must help people visualize the change and how it will impact them. It must be powerful enough to engage them in the higher purpose the change aspires to achieve.

So watch your language! Draw a picture and create a connection.


Carol Rozwell
VP Distinguished Analyst
11 years at Gartner
21 years IT industry

Carol Rozwell is a vice president and distinguished analyst on Gartner's Digital Workplace team. Read Full Bio

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