Our communication is composed of symbols, and not just the written form. Every set of sounds that we use is a symbol for both concepts and sentiments, both of which may not be shared by the ones doing the communicating. This lack of shared symbols is what causes most instances of miscommunication. Maybe the lack of shared symbols is due to a disparity in language, culture, or education. That’s certainly a possibility.
But I find that among people who speak the same language, there are often subtle symbols that are not absorbed by one party or another. We miss the importance of what’s not said, what’s implied by their tone, and the importance of people’s choice of words. People will often ask for something without ever making an interrogative statement. And if you bother to notice and use the subtle symbols, you can answer those questions equally wordlessly.
Someday I hope to not have to bother with subtlety, not because it’s intrinsically evil, but because it so often allows people to be dishonest with each other.