Naming the thing is a superpower — when did you last use it?

Benjamin P. Taylor
2 min readDec 7, 2022

The power of a declarative statement is often missed.

In business, management, consulting, and faciltation (and I could go on), the person who can identify what is actually happening can help to move the situation forward tremendously.

Like ‘the nudist colony in which it is the glances which are veiled’ (ever been in a changing room and noted how you magically, automatically avoid seeing genitalia?), we’re socially designed not to mention the elephant in the room. [Editors note: this comment could be considered hilariously ambiguous; please consider revising]

In the negotiation meeting, when you are stuck, why not say ‘we seem to be stuck’?

It clears the air, changes the focus, changes the energy — perhaps unsticking.

If someone goes off on a long rant, it can be powerful and kind to say ‘you seem angry about that’?

When you’re selling hard, and someone flinches at a price, the instinct is to breeze right past it, hoping you all pretend it’s not a problem. The power move is to really focus in: ‘oh — you seemed to react to that, does that feel uncomfortable to you?’

When the emotions are up, or down, name it.

On the Japanese railway, the driver will point to the signal, and say ‘the signal is green — OK to proceed’. Their copilot will point to the signal and confirm ‘the signal is green — OK to proceed’. Embodied, real, clear, concrete.

When there’s a power drill coming from the room next to the seminar room — mentioning it helps people accept and deal with it better.

Similarly, ‘gosh, I’m tired’ or ‘it feels like we’re going through a challenging section, doesn’t it?’

All of these draw attention to what is normally subtext; they allow us to consider whether we want to go back to pretending this isn’t the case, address it, or simply accept it and move on.

Can you think of examples of ‘naming the thing’?