Simple is Better …

Communication is what the listener does. The message they hear matters more than the message you speak.

This has to be one of the most profound principles that should govern communication between two people. It is about the ability and capacity of the person listening, not about the verbosity or grandiloquence of the speaker.

Everyone is at a different level of intellect, intelligence and comprehension. Everyone oscillates at their own frequency. You have to fine-tune a radio set to clearly listen to a channel. Similarly you have to know the right details of a receiver to be able to connect and communicate. A channel broadcasted that no one can tune to is a channel that does not exist. To communicate effectively entails transcending to the intellectual level and capacity of the person on the other end and then communicate. That is why teaching to first graders is most difficult – and schools entrust that job to the most trained teachers.

An aspect of this communication model is the explanation of complex or novel ideas to those  clueless about them. You need to know your stuff very well as well as be able to explain it in simple terms, to be able to really communicate.

Einstein seemed to excel in that – in both explaining this concept and providing examples for it.

If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.

Couple of examples of Einstein doing that …

When asked to describe what  a radio is …

“You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.”

At another occasion explaining relativity

“When you are courting a young girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.” 

Communication is what the listener does. You get the idea.

Have a good weekend!

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4 thoughts on “Simple is Better …

  1. Great post Ather and I loved the Einstein’s explanation of relativity. Just this week I was introduced to Daniel Kahneman’s work and along with other concepts it mentions that if the listeners feels easy and feels good, your communication is good.

    Thanks again for the reminder on focusing on the listener while communicating.

  2. Simply and well communicated articles… Yes, agreed on both of your writings..
    “There is no use for a radio channel that no one can tune to. Its merely wastage of electromagnetic waves.”…

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