“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” George Bernard Shaw



I have several memories collected over the last few years in which I’ve heard that the strategy of this company, by the voice of this president, is to communicate, communicate and communicate again.

I marvel at the fact that it remains a widespread strategy.

To use the communication for informational purposes is ok, but a lot of times there are expectations to have a payback from it, and most of the times the payback doesn’t come.

What I wonder is: how can it be true that nowadays you can solve the problem by increasing the amount of communication? And then, what is the problem we have to solve by this solution?

Really, we are guided by leaders who believe that a new policy, a new newsletter, a new SOP, a new meeting is what have to be increased in number to solve the problem?


Whatever the problem is, should be possible that the solution may be to increase the amount of communication in the era in which there are too many communications, the era of email, Internet, Youtube, Whatsapp, Viber, SMS, MMS, conference calls, video conferencing, Facebook, Twitter and so on and so forth ?


Maybe…… Maybe……. no.


I already wrote in the post titled ”As long as it (an issue) remains invisible, it is guaranteed to remain insoluble.” about the usefulness of exploiting the proliferation of e-mail to identify the processes that do not work; the same approach also applies to other forms of communication . We must not restrain them if there are too many, otherwise, we need to eliminate the trigger cause. Here we are saying that despite of too much communication, more of it should be added to clarify the new message, getting probably the opposite effect.

The feeling can even be the righ one, it is in the communication where we can find solutions to some of our problems, but we need to understand how many dimensions govern the effectiveness of communication (quantity, quality, content, media, target) .


I understand that this post may sound a bit high, so let me provoke you with this: communication is not an effective solution nor conclusive.


It is not.


Let’s think about how many are the cases in which the only communication is sufficient to guarantee the result.

I do not find many. Indeed, I see that when the communication is accompanied by consequences, perhaps even serious, then it works, but when communication is taken by itself will only work if the recipient has the same motivations and the same goals of the principal.


In other words, communication alone only works when it is not necessary to communicate.

Think about the “no parking” sign, just to give an example from everyday life. The sign is a form of communication, is it enough to avoid seeing cars parked illegally?

So here we need to introduce fines, but in some cases the cost of the fine times the probability of getting the ticket is a risk accepted by many. It still does not work.

We must apply the clamps to the wheels, we must implement the delays in unclamping the car, or we have to remove the car and take it to a peripheral parking lot underserved by the public transportation in which the car will be deposited with little care, just to maximize the hassles. In some countries, even the fine is proportional to the income of the offender .


Share the pain.


The communication itself is malfunctioning. Why would the solution to make more communication should work? How many more decades we have to waste to figure it out?


What many organizations continue to do is the equivalent of adding more “no parking” signs, add lines to the ground, add indications and limitations to the “no parking” signs; only few realize that the solution is to clamp the car, or removing it.


They miss the “share the pain” part.


Could it be that the communication is only done to clean up the conscience? I have said it so I’m okay, I have sent the email then it’s his fault if he doesn’t follow, there is a sign then the fault of others.


Maybe is it time to begin understanding that it is not the amount of communication that makes the difference, but the quality does?


If I communicate clearly I am more effective than when I am redundant. If the car is parked illegally and the fine will be given 100 % of the time, I do not think we need many more signs and lines on the ground to avoid having cars parked illegally .


The communication alone is not a solution, I repeat. The sooner we make this ours the better will be to avoid deluding ourselves and move on to others the responsibility for our failures. The communication only works when there is a reflection in the behavior of those who receive it; sharing a pain with offenders can be a good incentive, as well as rewarding in the opposite case.


I wonder if we will see in the next few years a change the trend. In the meantime, let’s work to keep this error away from our environments, and let’s enjoy the show of the “solution looking the problem” that we are served up regularly, that consists in the continuous increase of communication, strategy ” communication communication communication”, knowing well that the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

13 Responses to ““The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” George Bernard Shaw”

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