Posts Tagged ‘clarity’

I started out with nothing… and I still got most of it left!

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Apart from being a wonderful piece of modern American culture and answering the question “Can white men sing the blues?”  this is a great example of using language to convey two meanings at the same time.  The structure of this sentence would normally be used to report something positive, but by making the object a negative word, we have a joyful exercise in pathos. 

In art this can be a source of pleasure.  Most often this kind of contradiction is not deliberate and management double-speak is usually seen through.  Statements that say nothing are futile, and seen through instantly.  It is my experience  that most people are pretty expert at smelling BS and (to paraphrase my mother) “If you can’t say something nice, at least say something clear!” is a great rule.  You may not win any friends but you’ll win a little respect at least!

“Develop a built-in bullshit detector.”  Ernest Hemmingway

“Facts an’ facts, an’ t’ings an t’ings: dem’s all a lotta fockin’ bullshit. Hear me! Dere is no truth but de one truth, an’ that is the truth of Jah Rastafari.”  Bob Marley

Fry & Laurie–more communication lessons from comedy

Monday, February 7th, 2011

This lovely sketch is so funny because there isn’t one but two parallel conversations going on.  Here it is full of fabulous double entendre and laughs, but in real life it is usually far less obvious and the impact is often not in the least bit funny.

I talked elsewhere in this mini-series of communication lessons about how we hate to be wrong, and often we will sense that we have missed something that the other person has said, or at least not fully understood them.  They might say something like “You know Mr Wilberforce..” and we don’t but we don’t like to admit it, or interrupt them and we hope it is either unimportant or we might catch-up with them later.  Sometimes this works fine, but when it is important, you really need to clarify that you are both on the same page and both singing from the same song sheet,

Other comedy lessons:

  1. Morecombe & Wise
  2. Two Ronnies
  3. Rowan Atkinson
  4. Fawlty Towers

A tale of two rivers

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

I was lucky enough to be out walking twice this week; the first time around Petworth, in West Sussex, and today in New Alresford in Hampshire.  South of Petworth we had to cross the River Rother, beautiful, but thick with mud and cloudy.  I love rivers of every colour and complexion but it hardly looked inviting.  Today, we walked along the River Arle, a typical Hampshire chalk and gravel stream.  It ran fast and shallow.  One could see the fish, perch, trout and pike in it.; I can’t tell you how beautiful it was or how uplifting I found it just to walk beside it.  The main difference between these two rivers is really just a bit of mud in suspension but oh what a difference!

It may seem a bit of jump, but this put me in mind of what is going on in a social network that I belong to. A popular and active member has been suspended by the management for who-knows-what transgression.  There has been a huge upwelling of support and sympathy for them and yet the management has yet to respond or justify their actions.  It puts me in mind of the muddy river. 

I think that when we are dealing with others it is so much better when our actions / decisions are transparent and clear.  That way, even if others might not agree, at least they can understand them.  In business, it is essential for those in positions of power to be as open as possible.  They might not have to explain their actions, but if they choose not to, there are consequences.  They may be the leaders, but we choose who we follow….

“There is no persuasiveness more effectual than the transparency of a single heart, of a sincere life.”  Joseph B. Lightfoot

“Clarity, clarity, surely clarity is the Most beautiful thing in the world, A limited, limiting clarity I have not and never did have any Motive of poetry But to achieve clarity.”   George Oppen



Thursday, October 9th, 2008

I was talking to an old friend, sometime customer and colleague yesterday and we were discussing clients and the current economic climate. He has built and run a number of multi-million pound businesses and now finds himself in unaccustomed role of the being the external support to others. He is noticing the power and impact of being on the outside looking in and asking apparently simple questions.

When one is in the front line, dodging bullets, one quickly and naturally loses perspective. It seems there is an inverse relationship between the power to act and the ability to see clearly. I believe we all improve our performance with the input of a third party who can question, support and guide us.

This morning I was talking to my wife about something and I said “It is just like…” and she said “Exactly! That is just what it is like!” This brought to mind my experience with business leaders who often make the same comment. The thing is, once you have a label like that you can act and it unleashes all your resources which you can then focus on resolving the problem.

Before Action comes Clarity…

If you are feeling uncertain or unclear, talk to someone outside the situation


“More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity” Francois Gautier

“Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy” Richard Holloway