Importance of Context: A lesson from buying furniture


Often times people make statements which when quoted elsewhere, sounds like something different from what was originally said or meant. This happens when words are taken out of context. We’re all familiar with this, and probably even had it happen to us.

But it is well worth noting that context doesn’t only relate to words, and it must never be ignored.

I went to the store to buy furniture the other day. I had someone pick out a set for me beforehand, one that was comfortable to sit in, and was of a colour that matched the destination room. So context as far as colour was concerned, was taken into consideration.

When I went I sat in it to make sure it was comfy, and I verified that the colour was appropriate, and then I paid for it. But when it was delivered later that day, it was immediately apparent that the sofa set was too bulky for the room. It took up too much space, and it just didn’t belong.

My failure was to ignore the spatial context. In the store, everything looked fine. Of course, the item was set out in a spacious area, making it difficult to realise that the furniture set would have a proportion issue in the target area.

Eventually I had to return the sofa set and take a more expensive one. A lot of trouble and disappointment could have been avoided by simply paying attention to the context in which the furniture was displayed and compare it to the context that it would be taken to.

Context really does matter, regardless of whether we’re dealing with words or a physical setting or something else. So remember to consider the context!

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