Like many others, I look around me for inspiration. Fortunately, with the company I keep, the books I read, and the environment in which I live, I don’t have to look too hard. One of the forums I frequent offered the following quote attributed to Joseph Priestley:

“The more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.”

I did a little research and was perplexed by the number of people who endorsed such a message. There is plenty of evidence that technology is making many of us lazy communicators, that texting alone is eroding language proficiency, and that social networking makes relationships with “friends” or “connections”  increasingly superficial. I won’t argue that one bit. I have been disappointed more than once by the lack of response to a message I transmitted, whether it be by voice, text, e-mail, or letter. I acknowledge that text messaging, chat abbreviations, and social shorthand has created a language that resembles English less and less each day. And I freely admit that being “friends” with people we have not met in the physical world makes me a little uncomfortable at times. That said, the technology that enables such communication amazes me. I believe that the more elaborate the means become, the more I communicate.

On a given day, I learn from thought leaders by watching (or listening to) talks they have given, blogs they have written, and articles they have shared. I connect with friends, family, and Shipmates from around the world through text, voice, and even letters. I reach out to inspiring people I have never met, and more often than not receive a meaningful response. Technology is amazing to me and the most impressive application is the communication it enables. As you might imagine, I completely disagree with Mr. Priestley. Instead, I offer the following:

“The more we elaborate our means of communication, the MORE we communicate, the wider the audience becomes, the farther our message is heard, and the greater the chance of reciprocation.” 

Leaders have a responsibility to use any and all communication means available to effectively communicate with others. Meetings need not be physical in nature (though many times direct presence is required) and a message might be best articulated through pictures, numbers, words, graphs, tables, video, or any combination thereof. The important thing is that communication is effective, not that it is elaborate. That said, the more elaborate our means becomes, the greater the opportunity we have to truly reach the target audience, provided we care enough to truly communicate.

  • What communication vehicles are you afraid to use?
  • How is your target audience best reached?
  • Do you expect the audience to come to you or do you recognize your responsibility to go to them?