Avoiding a Communication Disaster - Radiant

The Radiant Blog

Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg

Communication DisasterThis sign is an absolute disaster from a communication perspective. I shouldn't have to know BEDMAS in order to be impacted by your pitch.

It reminds me of the speech that Bilbo Baggins gives at his one hundred and eleventh birthday party near the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring: "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." The difference between Bilbo's speech and this sign though is that I'm guessing this sign isn't intentionally or strategically confusing.

Often this kind of an end result comes as a function of trying to say something that is really clear in your mind and simply doing an awful job of translating it into a message that your audience can appreciate or even understand. As such, it presents a great example of why getting an outsiders perspective on your communications is a good idea. But frequently we don't get that outside opinion for any of a number of different reasons. Here's a few:

  1. Can't afford the time/money to get someone to look at it.
    I don't know how much time and money was spent on this sign in design and production, but one thing I am sure of is that it's hours and dollars that could have been better spent and would have been had someone put the brakes on the project, or at the very least adjusted the steering wheel.
  2. I don't need anyone to review my work.
    Sadly, we do see this attitude from time-to-time and it's such a destructive approach. The best communicators realize that they come from a certain perspective, experience and bias and as a result, know that it's critical to make sure that when they speak or write that what they communicate can resonate with the audience. It's not an admission of weakness; in fact, it's an act of wisdom to accept that you're not all knowing.
  3. Didn't think of it that way.
    This is probably the most popular reason for a sign like this getting made and posted. And while neglect and oversight can be excusable to a degree, the challenge comes when nothing is learned from the experience.

So here we are, in the happy circumstance of having the opportunity to benefit from someone else's experience and hopefully the thoughts above can help each of us make sure that we don't fall into the same mistake ourselves.

And now, I feel the need to go purchase half a pair of glasses...or something like that.