Sunday, April 03, 2005

Have you heard this one…?

As a communications consultant, I enjoy exploring the world of business communications with my clients. Communication, I figure, is absolutely the core function of a business. And yet communication is so much harder than it looks – and we could all communicate so much better if we tried.

The trouble is, careless communication is a black hole with infinite potential for career-limiting errors. The latest company to learn that is Blockbuster. It is being raked over the coals for its new slogan, “The End of Late Fees” – when its new campaign entails charging customers the full retail price of their video if it’s more than a week late. So far it has had to pay the legal fees for consumer complaints in 47 states!

So one of the ways I try to deal with communication issues is through jokes that expose the deadly consequences of poor communication. I will share some with you over the next few days. Since I stole – I mean compiled - most of them from other people, please feel free to pass them on. Unless you’re a communication consultant, of course.

So here’s Communication Sin No. 1: Careless arrogance.

A patient was waiting nervously in the examination room of a famous specialist. "So who did you see before coming to me?" asked the doctor. "My family doctor,” said the patient.
"Your GP?" scoffed the doctor. "What a waste of time. Tell me, what sort of useless advice did he give you?"
"He told me to come and see you."


Sin No. 2: Avoid absolutes.

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. "In English," he said, "A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

Then a voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."

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