Hot or Cold? And a musical example

Are you a hot or cold person? Now, if you were posed this question by an associate you might be a little flabbergasted. Perhaps it is the abruptness of the question. It may be interpreted as a slightly personal question, probing into your character, which you may not appreciate because you might not want to be analysed. Perhaps the intent behind the questioning is not certain, and you might be puzzled by what kind of information is being requested from you. After all, the word hot has different connotations. If you were to mention to someone that a third party was hot, you would have to make clear whether you meant you found the person attractive or whether he was having a fiery moment.

Even more possible is the fact that you could simply be asked about your preferences with regards to food or weather. Do you prefer hot or cold food? Do you prefer warmer or colder weather? In both cases, the exact intent was not clear from the onset and hence that was the reason for the confusion.

When we communicate a question or a request, we have to make ourselves concise and clear. Being too brief runs the risk of being misunderstood, while trying to explain ourselves clearly using more words may run the risk of being too waffly and hard to understand. But finding the balance between the two is something that is difficult for most of us, but with experience we learn how to communicate our intent clearly and briefly. Being brief means that there are fewer words for the listener to process, and they can get on with the task of interpreting the meaning.

The classical music composer William Walton was often lauded for his brevity and directness, even if his music was often the opposite of this, seeking to convey emotional meaning through non-verbal means. Perhaps we can all be hot and cold in various senses and different situations, and it is the skill of emotional intelligence to know which to revert to and when!