Thursday, December 2, 2010
Estimate versus Guess
As our culture changes at an even increasing rate of speed, it becomes more important to instill in the younger generations basic facts about honesty, logic, integrity. The ways we as a society convey our ideas, using ever increasing acronyms and misspellings for the sake of brevity (lol), remain problematic. The results range somewhere between complete miscommunication and utter global disaster.
The solution may be instilling in our younger generations a better grasp of language or at least a standard for the language we use.
Do you know the difference between an estimate and a guess?
Most people would say “yes”, but for clarity's sake please read on…
A group sits in a conference room, a long table in the middle with chairs around.
Ms. L: I want you to give me estimates but I don’t want you to guess.
Mr. A: Okay
Ms. L: Please let me give you an example of an estimate. Take this table for example: based on your ability to see the table and your proximity to the table and your experience with different sized tables, you would be able to estimate the length of this table.
Mr. A: Approximately.
Ms. L: Yes.
Mr. A: Well, it’s more than six feet but less than 10, I’ll guess, 8 and a half feet.
Ms. L: Actually, that’s an estimate, because you looked at it and reasoned it out. I happen to know that this table is 8 feet long, so your estimate was very close to correct. But if you had said anything between 6 and 10 feet, that too would be correct because you are estimating.
Mr. A: Okay, great!
Ms. L: But if I asked you how long my dining room table is at home, you would have to guess. You haven’t been to my house to see the table. I might not even have a dining room table. So for you to answer, that would be a guess.
Mr. A: I understand.
Ms. L: Great. Are you ready to proceed?
Mr. A: I guess.
Ms. L: cries….
Agreement of language is essential for good communication. If you aren’t sure what something means, ask. Language is fluid. Words have a variety of definitions. If you understand the language but you don’t understand the message, ask: what do you mean by that? What’s the point?