Language: The Most Important Contraxiom

The second chapter of “The Geek Leader’s Handbook”:  “Contraxioms: A Conceptual Framework”, it introduces this new word “contraxiom“. The word contraxiom was invented by the writers of this book to help explain the differences and frustrations between geeks and non-geeks. The book defines it as “A matched pair of contrasting axioms that give rise to vastly different worldviews”. The writers felt the need for this word after years of studying and researching geeks and non-geeks in the work place. They came up with seven different contraxioms between the two worldviews. Work, future, language, lying, good and evil, and finally desire. These are seven different things that geeks and non-geeks see extremely differently. In this blog I will be focusing mainly on the contraxiom of language. I chose this one because without language there would be no option for any other contraxioms. If there is no way to communicate there is no way to disagree. Subsequently, I chose to do language. There are many varieties of differences between geeks and non-geeks when it comes to language. If a non-geek does not know how to communicate with a geek, it could end very badly.


Have you and your significant other ever argued about where you guys want to get food? Ever wonder how something so simply could be so complicated? This is how geeks feel on the regular when communicating with non-geeks. Watch this video below and see if you have ever experienced this argument whether you be Noah or Allie in this specific example.

See how frustrating that was fro the both of them? Maybe it was a bit over dramatic but you get the point. Noah just wanted to know what she wanted to eat and get the food. He wanted the information and that is it. This is how geeks work. The purpose for language for geeks is to simply relay information. In their eyes it is a waste of energy and time to relay emotion or argue over something so irrelevant. They take things very literally and to the point. This is important information for non-geeks to know so when in communicating with a geek they will know how to communicate with them. This information can act as a translator like in this image below:



This contraxiom in true in most cases but not in all. Take my father for instance. He is a very much a geek and always has been. He has collected comic books and watched star wars his whole life. He go into computers when they started becoming more available to the public and has never stopped loving them since. My dad went back to school and majored in Computer Information Systems when I was younger. He learned many skill sets when it came to computers. But he is not fun to communicate with. He almost never gives a straight up answer or response. It drives my family crazy. To get a simple yes or no from him takes minutes. So my point here is that not ALL gets are like this when it comes to language and communicating, but most are.

Non-geeks seem to use language quite a bit differently. They find it important to share meaning rather than information. Geeks see language as a way to process the information in their brains and code it into words to relay information. Non-geeks love to relate to their audience or peer. They try to find common ground and talk about each others lives. Non-geeks do not like to be interrupted by all these direct questions and clarifications. They just want to talk and communicate.

Overall, both geeks and non-geeks need to learn the differences between them and find a way to relate to each other. Just simply respecting your co-worker, manager, or worker and learning to communicate with them is important. This is something that goes in all areas of life. People need to learn that people are different and learn to relate and respect one another. So whether geek or non-geek; learn to communicate with the other and do the best you can to relate and make the communication process as simple as possible.

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