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The art of Communication

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.

Bible- Genesis 11:1-8

I love the book called The Mythyical Man-Month (by Fredrick P. Brooks) which has discussed this in pretty good details. The author of the book raised the following question: Why did the Tower of Babel failed?

Further he continued saying: How well was that project equipped with the prerequisites for success? Did they have:

  1. A clear mission? Yes
  2. Manpower? Plenty of it
  3. Materials? They had abundances of clay and asphalt
  4. Enough time? Yes, there were no constraints
  5. Technology? Yes, the Pyramidal structure is stable, well tested and fully understood

The author continues: If they had all of these things, why did the project fail then?

He concludes then: They lack communication since their languages became confused and they did not understand each other. They were unable to talk to each other, hence they could not coordinate, thus, work on ground halted.

Communication is not only talking the same language, but also ensuring that the one who listens to your words understands what you want her to understand. This means that words taken away from their context can mean very different things. Context is not only the case these words are related to, but also includes who has said these words, who is the recipient and what feelings are involved during the submission of the message.

A funny example of this is to think about how you would react if you are sitting in a room and one of your important business relations says: It is hot here could anyone open a window? Would you run to the window and open it?

Ok, then Visualize the same scenario, but this time replace your business relation with your mother in law. How would you react? What would you think?

Delivering messages within the right context can mean success or failure in most cases. Many times it is more important than the message itself.

I will not dive deeper in the topic this time, but promise to come back with a longer post on this subject.

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