What Communication is not

I once got hold of a short story about two individuals I will refer to as Mr A and B. Mr. A had approached B and called him intelligent rabbi, a title used albeit rarely for Jesus in the bible. A beaconed B with the challenge to inform him if the bird in his pocket was alive or dead. B responded if I tell you, it was alive, you will bring it out dead and if I call it dead you will bring it out alive, so what you have in your pocket depends on your intention. Mr. A been disappointed retorted and called B diabolically intelligent with such answer. Mr. C joined the discussion to give approval to A's statement. Mr. B educated them both on how ignorant they were in the fullness of their assumption which infused them with anger and then B went further to say, they should not have put themselves in the position of been so judged. He went further to say far from been your rabbi, I would not shirk to say I am a communication expert and I know the difference between mere expression of diction and communication- in other words, I know what communication is not.

The lack of communication as well as insufficiency of it is the recorded highest cause of failure of projects all over the word. In the above narrative, the essentials of communication were lacking because the intended result from that communication was suggestive of hidden or ominous purpose in its variant form. It lacks the purpose of achieving and conveying accurate purpose which makes mutually understood language between parties reasonable and meaningful. It was suggestive and controlling by context and carries with it the chance to either been disregarded or scorned by any man of average intelligence. Communication is not needless question or suggestion as suggestion is either for the purpose of giving the other party the choice on an issue when it could be called communication or manipulate him to an unfair corner when it's not. Such communication style is only envisaged between human and non-human subjects and even the bible recorded King David in Psalm 32 v 9 that such communication style should be disregarded as unbefitting of God's creature save those who utilise it would control your freedom needlessly.

Suggestive messages are strong tools in negative psychology and mostly utilised by narcissists and nihilists to achieve a humiliating or cruel purpose on their victims. In recent years of information technology, it has become recurrent on digital tools to perpetuate cybercrimes and bullying. It carries with it the advantage of avoiding legal consequence when trying to achieve a criminal end. The temptation of falling into its usage by anyone is also high because of its deniable context and advantage. The only intelligent response is to disregard it and the disadvantage for those using it is the psychological effect it has on them when disregarded. It belittles them and exposes them to deep vulnerability even as small as the issue may look.

Another thing communication is not is jargon. There are certain words that are best left for fraternal purposes, or it becomes needless pride in public.  The law profession for instance retains a copious amount of Latin words, however such words are only meant for usage withing the boundary of profession. The modern age has even developed communication such that passing meaning to people suggest the soundness of argument and its details been expressed in simple dictions to the public than giving them the additional effort to seek meaning from dictionary. Most of those big vocabularies are now old-fashioned and unavailable to the modern age.  Communication is not also noise as this could be termed as nuisance at best, otherwise noise should correspond to the need for it and its volume must be measurable to the scenario where it was employed.

In the business world where project managers are expected to communicate with stakeholders too, there are those things that could be borrowed from their good practice. An essential part of that is that we live in a busy world where most people have business to handle aside the project you are managing hence communication must be planned. In any communication plan, the vital element is to agree with the person you are communicating with on the period of communication and medium of communication. Also, communication in this context must be reduced to the only essential elements and if possible be made as lean as possible if not apologise for the long details and plead to be read.

What then is communication? Communication is the transmission or exchange of information between parties who share the understanding of the need to communicate. Such need cannot be imposed, or it becomes coercion and tainted communication which could be a crime. The word propaganda became negative today because it was repeatedly used in advocating World War 2 otherwise there was nothing wrong with it, but it was used for wrong purpose in a sensational event. Propaganda is what a preacher does when preaching in church and a politician as well as other public figures when addressing their audience. These people however have the advantage to abuse communication by sowing wrong seeds which means they could propagate wrong messages and taint or stain the essence of sane communication because they were given the rare privilege of been heard- This is power abuse.

Agreement to speak and be heard vice versal are the element of good communication and it must leave room for healthy debate. Language is a gift of courtesy, to suggest it and think its heard is ill as George Bernard Shaw puts it, ‘The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.' The illusion here has two sides of mental health issue, the first is that it has the potential of impairing mental health of the person who was to receive the message but if that person is smart enough to disregard it, it affects the person using it mentally because he would first generate disappointment, and then he would egotistically try to emphasise it and then it leads to continued frustration. This is why it is good to look at what you plan to say before saying it as King Solomon said, ‘a word fitly spoken is like an apple of gold in the set of silver.' Communication must be in mutually understood language, devoid of jargons, concise and not more than needed for details. When there is break-down of it, it must be led back to its essential elements otherwise it is not communication again. Remember, just because we can speak the same language does not mean we can have communication.

'Yemi Daramola

Managing Consultant.
Jason Folds Group