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Lack of Communication Is Never the Main Problem

Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing? — No, it doesn’t. What about the other way around? — No, it’s not even conceivable. 

Within an organization, we inevitably get to talk about the lack of communication, which we are trying to solve. But then again, maybe not, maybe we shouldn’t point fingers to the lack of communication as being the main problem, while searching for solutions which would prove to be useless after all. In fact, things are not like that at all, and it’s not the lack of communication that’s the main problem.

Mainly, we know several types of people: first off — there are those who say “no” without giving a reason, and then — those who say “yes” without asking questions. And there are, of course, those who, no matter what their answer may be, they will clearly articulate and communicate it. But, somewhere in between, there will almost insidiously slither those who don’t give a straight answer and who always only give half of the answer, always biased, giving rise to the impression of an alternate reality and in some cases, to conspiracies.

If there’s anything I learned, it’s that I shouldn’t take for granted anything I am told, be it argued or not. And also, I learned that I should always ask questions, especially when I am being delivered a message as if I were deaf, mute and blind, or simply ignorant. No, I am none of those things.

And I also realized that, in some cases of unclear communication, I inevitably end up creating my own scenarios. We all do it; it’s an absolutely normal response, which, in the absence of a clear message that would not allow for the creation of a made-up script, ironically ends up forming its own extension of a reality which is either half-accurate or not at all. And from here on out, when things calm down, and the truth unfolds to us as a revelation, we start blaming the lack of communication, pointing fingers at it, as if it were the main issue.

Let’s stop here for a bit and take an example at hand: the ending of a film — which can be closed, not leaving any room for interpretation, or, it can be open, leaving us to later pour into our own scripts. In the case of an open, maybe even ambiguous ending — we end up debating our own interpretation which we have alternately formed in the absence of an unequivocal one. We do not discuss the motives of the characters, which can be misconstrued, but the action itself, namely what might have happened, and the continuity of an action that kept you entertained without reaching the decisive point. What is the truth, where is it? First of all: there is no truth. The closest we could get to the truth would be an educated guess, so basically irrelevant –which is possibly the writer’s intention to keep us hanging long after the movie ended.

Back to the so-called lack of communication which we identify as the main problem: it exists, but it is not the most important thing. Lack of communication and poor communication generally hide other issues. The first impulse is to believe that there is confusion at the other end of the communication as well. Yes, it is very likely that this is true. But if we move backwards, observing the path that a message follows before it reaches us in a cascading effect, we will perhaps notice other issues besides the lack of clarity or the already ancestral indecision: the lack of transparency, the existence of too much of an organizational hierarchy — necessary or not, or other plans that we are not or should not be aware of for obvious reasons.

The same thing happens to a message that starts off as clumsy and deficient right from its source: lacking a clear message from the first emitter, the person who is supposed to forward it will formulate their own scenarios, to which they will add their own opinion in the subsequent propagation of the message. If this person does not do it, someone else will, and they will add their own scripts to it, to which another scenario will be added, and another one, and another one. Ultimately, the changes will end up swallowing up the truth which was half-delivered from the beginning.

Therefore, it is difficult to receive a message as it was originally delivered, and we can’t hope that in such a rough terrain someone will manage to say a clear “yes” or a “no”, thus breaking a potential chain of scenarios from being created. In this context, why would anyone, even a large part of an organization, take the responsibility of solving a situation such as the lack of communication, which cannot be fully controlled, and in the end, is not even the biggest problem? The road is rough, so — isn’t this the main problem after all?

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Laurențiu Ion

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