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What is communication, anyway?. Thinking and acting with probabilities. 1. Language is inherently ambiguous. Examples Ok, what’s the big deal? “If I say something which you understand fully in this respect, I probably made a mistake.” - Alan Greenspan.

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what is communication anyway

What is communication, anyway?

Thinking and acting with probabilities.

1 language is inherently ambiguous
1. Language is inherently ambiguous.
  • Examples
  • Ok, what’s the big deal?
  • “If I say something which you understand fully in this respect, I probably made a mistake.” - Alan Greenspan
2 the comm process can be described in terms of probabilities
2. The comm. process can be described in terms of probabilities.
  • The sender typically only sees one possibility. The receiver may:
    • see same same possibility
    • see different possibility
    • can not determine the correct possibility
prop 2 cont
Prop. 2 cont.
  • The sender may purposely use language to promote multiple probabilities
    • Equivocate
    • Verbal Rorschach
    • Examples: Rec. Letter: “I’m pleased to say this person is a former colleague of mine” or “You will be very fortunate to get this person to work for you”
  • The receiver may purposely misunderstand
3 context building is a dynamic process
3. Context building is a dynamic process
  • “Hand it to me”
  • Misleading images
  • Which exerts most power?
    • Context
    • Content
4 context is solidified interpretations that shape probabilities
4. Context is “solidified interpretations” that shape probabilities.
  • Unwritten agreements (rules)
  • That are not deterministic
  • But strongly influential
5 context is created dynamically individually through interaction with others
5.Context is created dynamically & individually through interaction with others.
  • Context is different than situation
  • Interaction patterns vary from person-to-person
7 the context can become so powerful it acts like a black hole
7. The context can become so powerful it acts like a “black hole”.
  • Adolf Hitler
  • IBM
  • When words lose their power, only force remains.
context construction is uniquely sensitive to time sequencing
Context construction is uniquely sensitive to time sequencing.
  • Noncommutativity A +B = B+ A
  • skyscraper, cathedral, temple, prayer
  • prayer, temple, cathedral, skyscraper
10 while interpretations are relative the process of creating meaning is not
10. While interpretations are relative, the process of creating meaning is not.
  • Understanding is not a hopeless task.
  • Focus on the process, not the words, not even the people.
so what
So what?
  • Explore the context of employees (MBWA)
  • Check for possible misunderstandings, even if you think you are understood
  • Use the “black out” technique to communicate messages that are likely to be misunderstood.
so what cont
So what? cont.
  • Recognize that law of “large numbers”. As numbers grow larger, anything can happen. (Harrier Jets and Pepsi)
  • Build contexts with employees.
  • Focus on employee interpretations not the message (What they heard vrs. What you said)
so what cont1
So what? Cont.
  • Become sensitive to unwitting secondary messages.
  • Frame messages carefully (e.g. Cashman).
  • Carefully manage employee expectations
    • Silent benchmarks
    • “Under-promise over-deliver”
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