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The Devil’s Advocate

In which the curmudgeonly old sod puts the world to rights.

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On good and bad communications.

Commercial lawyers have lost sight of their primary purpose: not just being expert in complicated fields of the law, but to be able to plainly and clearly communicate that expertise to people who are not.

Those people are called “clients”. Clients — even sophisticated ones — Q.E.D. do not understand as well as they expect you to. If they did, they wouldn’t need your advice.

To communicate plainly, of course, you must first have a real command of your field. But this is asymmetrical: to communicate clearly about a complex field you need expertise. To communicate badly about it, you do not.

It is easy to tell whether a good communicator is an expert. It is hard to tell whether a bad communicator is an expert.

Therefore: blaggers and charlatans tend to be bad communicators. They are wilfully poor users of language.

Now, can anyone think of a modern industry that that charges a great deal of money to advise on complicated topics, but is beset with poor communication?

Types of communication

Push communication: information sent unasked — pushed — to a recipient. Push communications are used to communicate interesting, important, or time-sensitive announcements that must be communicated immediately and directly. Email blasts, posters and digital billboards, push notifications (digital alerts sent from a mobile app), SMS, and voicemails are all examples of push communications. Also, a conference call, unless you are the convenor (in which case it is a pull communication).

Pull communication: information that is accessible to a recipient when the recipient wants it, on the recipient’s terms. A pull tool is (fnarr fnarr) — ahh, self-service — open, convenient, non-time-sensitive, generally interesting information. The JC is, largely, one giant, existential infernal howl of angst in the shape of a pull communication. It is designed to be a resource for people in a moment of interest or need.

Communication of change

Communication of change is a push communication. But, we think, generally an ill-advised one.

See also