Is It a Matter of Pragmatics?

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) define Pragmatics as the social use of language. It is the set of rules that govern our daily interpersonal interactions. Most people learn these rules implicitly; others require more explicit training. The laws of Pragmatics govern things like conversational topic maintenance, turn taking, providing just the right amount of information (not too much and not too little), truthfulness (say what you mean and mean why you say), and perspective taking (empathizing with another person’s point of view).

The rules of Pragmatics have been much on my mind as I’ve moved into new office space over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been unpleasantly surprised by the number of business people who violate them in their professional interactions. A few problems I’ve encountered include:

  • Too little information provided to allow me to make sound, informed decisions.
  • Failure to follow through with appointments and work scheduled.
  • Inability or unwillingness to grasp the inconvenience and wasted hours of my valuable time said failure to follow through cost me.

My experiences aren’t unique to this one situation. Is the problem a matter of Pragmatics? I would say yes, because the above rules that guide our social interactions are being violated rampantly these days. Is our society experiencing an epidemic of Pragmatic disorders that require  treatment by Speech-Language Pathologists? Probably not.  I believe it’s more about the choices being made. Poor customer service!

Here’s a hint for my fellow SLP business owners: pay attention to the rules of Pragmatics in your practice. Your customer service skills will improve. Word should get around quickly! I think this could be an easy way to set yourself apart from the competition, don’t you?


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