Communication is perception

Never before in history has there been so many tools, equipment , techniques and channels available for communication. Yet, surprisingly, communication between people remains a huge problem. 

Could it be that we are focussing more on technique, style, technology rather than people?

What constitutes communication?

A communication has three components, the sender, the message and the receiver. 
Unfortunately most teachers of management and communications focus primarily on the message and the sender. What to send and how to send it?  Be aggressive, seductive etc etc. they teach. There appears to be little focus on the receiver.

Effective communication depends primarily on the recipient. If the recipient is unable or unwilling to listen then the message is lost if not rendered ineffective, just like the case of the tree crashing in the forest.

Every philosophical school of thought asks this question, "If a tree crashes down in the forest, and there is no one to hear it, will there be a sound?"
There will be noise but no sound. The answer therefore is, 'no', because there is no sound, unless it is perceived by someone. 

This means that fundamentally it is the recipient that is the one who communicates. The communicator who emits the communication only utters it. If there is no one to hear it there is no communication, just noise.

Why do people not receive the communications?
The most important reason is perception.
One can only communicate in the terms, reference that is within the perception capacity of the recipient. Just because we the sender/speaker understand it so clearly and obviously, it does not mean the recipient sees it the same way.

When we say there isn elephant, it is obvious to us what we mean. But recipients are like a group of blind men who have encountered an elephant. Each feels a different part of this incredible creature. One who feels the ear, thinks an elephant is like a big fan, another grabs the leg believes the elephant is like a tree trunk, etc. 

The perception of the elephant is different for each person unless they have experienced the whole creature or the different parts that we speak of. Effective communication takes place only when we first know what the recipient can see and why.

The human mind perceives only what it expects to perceive, within its frame of expectations. It resists nearly all attempts to 'change its mind'.

An excellent case that every newspaper editor knows, the powerful use of 'fillers'. These are three or five liner incidental irrelevant information used to 'balance' a page. These are remembered most by readers, because they place no demands on the recipient as compared to the large relatively complex articles.

Communication always makes demands on the recipient, to be somebody, do something, believe something. Communication has to meet the aspirations and expectations of the recipient for it to be effective. At its most powerful impact, effective communication brings about change in beliefs, values or behaviour. 

Next time you try to communicate, you might be more effective if you approach it from the recipients point of perception.


  1. I have been trying to post my comments under my own name and E-I'D,but have been unable to do so because of a response asking for "host URL"--what is this please explain.


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