Friday, 11 October 2013

Communication, Again

And again, and again, and again.

Maybe ad nauseum. Ad infinitum.

You don't need to know the details, but within my (large) family we had a bit of a communication issue this week. Information got passed on, but either only partially or not quite right, and from person, to person, to person, so that something really quite simple ended up causing a LOT of phone calls, and many, many hours of talking. It's nobody's fault, nobody did anything that could be construed as wrong, and it absolutely was not intentional, but it was a good example of how despite our incredibly complex  language we manage to mess up this communication thing really well.

Another, much simpler example.

I called Michael this morning as normal. After a while he didn't appear so I called him again. And I got "MOM! It's a PD day! I told you yesterday!"

Did he? I don't remember that. My memory isn't that bad, seriously, therefore the problem is obvious, he did not have my full attention at the time.

And there my friends, we have the crux of the issue.

Despite clear concise wording, simple concepts, and no obvious hearing issues, stuff just doesn't go in.

It's a common human failing, and it has many causes.

Well, it happens in writing too.

The very first thing I read online today was a thread on FB where somebody linked to a product that they thought might appeal to others. Didn't appeal to me so I read it very quickly...I parsed it...and then left the site.

The one and only comment was:

"Where do I get one?"

I replied:

"Click the Buy It Now" button.

Probably a bit terse really, depending on how you read it, but....problem solved.

Every day of my life I spend time responding to business questions that people could answer themselves if they read a bit more carefully. I'm used to it. I just answer them (sometimes cut and paste from where they've just come from) and carry on.

I think maybe we are bombarded with too much information in the modern world. Too much communication.

I notice some websites are aware of this and have gone for a sparse, minimalist look now, which is why you can't find anything on Google anymore. (It was fine as it was.)

You may have heard/read one of my basic communication maxims, about the shared responsibility between talking and listening, or between writing and reading. Clearly, on occasions, both are failing, to some extent or other.


  1. You know where I work and the milieu, Melanie; communication is an absolute around here and ironically, is one of the skills that I find to be lacking the most. It is at a point where I will not take a "verbal" anything; if you want something, if you have something that needs to be shared? Send me an e-mail. I need hard copy proof.

    1. Which helps, but doesn't seem to REALLY solve the problem, if people don't read carefully. I wish I knew what the answer was. 99% of the time somebody argues with me they are arguing something I never actually said......