Sunday, 14 December 2008

A Communication Failure

Just a quick posting on the De Menezes Inquest. I was taught in the Civil Service that every message requires two things:

person 1 to say or write it;

person 2 to understand it exactly as person 1 means it.

If person 2 does not umderstand exactly what person 1 means then there has been a failure of communication. It is the responsibility of person 1 to ensure that his message is properly understood by his audience.

I read this interesting snippet about DAC Cressida Dick*'s evidence at the Inquest in yesterday's Daily Mail:

She denied that she gave an order that Mr de Menezes must be stopped from getting on to a train at Stockwell 'at all costs' and also denied instructing the firearms teams to use lethal force to stop him.

Miss Dick told the inquest that she ordered armed officers to 'stop him' from getting on the Tube. She said: 'Stop is a phrase we all use all the time to detain, either to talk to someone or to arrest them. I was asking for what you might call a conventional - albeit aware of the risks - challenge from the firearms officers.'

Miss Dick described Mr de Menezes as 'the victim of some terrible and extraordinary circumstances' and said she did not think any officer did 'anything wrong or unreasonable'.

Well that's alright then. As Charlie Croker famously said to a subordinate in different circumstances:


* BA Oxon, MPhil Cantab so one can assume she is reasonably skilled at selecting the precise words required to nail a lucid sentence together.

4 comments:

James Higham said...

They lie through their teeth.

Gallimaufry said...

James, it's more a Clinton-Blair finessing of the actualite than an outright lie, which is, ironically, more honest IMHO.

CherryPie said...

Yes it is important that the message you have communicated is understood. It doesn't me the other person has to agree, but it is important the message has been understood!

Gallimaufry said...

Unfortunately, some senior managers are skilled at inserting up to 180 degrees of ambiguous wiggle-room in any message so that in the event of an unforeseen unsatisfactory outcome the lowest grade of line manager can be presented with an elegantly tied buck topped with a bow.