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Futile Communication – Road to Perdition

Communication matters. A lot. Reading and thinking about storytelling lately I am starting to recognize a bit more some of the communication patterns. And those futile ones seem more obvious to me now. A particular one that struck me the most lately could be called “I know you must change” (personally calling it “dumb suicide”).

“I know you must change”

The pattern is quite simple and I bet most of you have experienced it already. The hero (failed hero, as a matter of fact) of this story is quite a smart person. He happened to recognize tons of issues & problems, scrutinized them, found few root causes and came up with a solution. The solution means a change – as it always does. He knows things need to change. He’s the one that sees, understands and thinks others will see it and understand it the same way. So he comes and challenges his peers with his wisdom telling them to bite the bullet. Peers unite in defense, challenge the wisdom, challenge the facts, or – brutally simply – they just disagree. Their defense shifts to offense and the hero is forced to defend his position, dignity, ego, and fight back with ‘yeah but’s. There’s no winning for the hero in this story, sorry, that’s life. The hero is defeated.

Ok, perhaps frustration makes me say too much about a trivial and obvious fact that the way you set the scene for any discussion is in your hands, so don’t screw it up by “shooting yourself in the knee” with a losing strategy. It’s also good to remember that there’s ALWAYS another perspective on the matter.

Categories: EA
  1. sorin
    August 9, 2012 at 4:28 am

    I would not call it defeat – just another step on the steep road towards winning. Step back a little, think why they wouldn’t change, why were they afraid and start again, from a different angle or different setup. Tackle them one by one before confronting them together. And remember: ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win’. It’s great that they started to fight you, it means you are close to winning 🙂

  2. November 15, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Good post.. but a little bit frustrating :). I agree with all except the last sentence. I think it’s not a failure – it’s a challenge coming from a negative feedback. Hand on heart – trying to change something isn’t the one step operation. it’s a permanent progress in communication, evangelization and in changing the “game” always and always… The more constraints the better and more innovative solution.

    • November 15, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      It’s likely not all that clear what I meant – too much “story” jargon in there. What I am criticizing is particular “I-am-the-smart-one-who-knows-the-best” approach to evangelization, getting people on board, “selling” the idea of change, which just does not work, not even with a lot of endurance. Communication is just incredibly delicate task that need mastery, skills, even salesman skills, and a touch of humbleness also helps.

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