BrianPansky Wiki

Effective communication (communication that effectively communicates the intended meaning) is vital in the practice of honesty, cooperation, conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and general philosophical discourse.

I'll have to write here about clear communication, who is responsible for successful communication, and ways that some people fail, or even excuse poor communication.

A strategic guide to technical communication, 2nd edition, is a good guide for communication skills. Maybe I'll write a summary of it from my study notes.


To communicate something, there must be a clear distinction between what you mean to communicate and what you do not mean to communicate (if it's plausible that your audience wouldn't know).

Precise distinctions are also necessary to make truly accurate descriptions, and so on.  Failure to make true distinctions indicates ignorance, confusion, dishonesty, or other errors (and can pass errors on to others).

If you must use abstractions...

Use clear, concrete examples to illustrate abstractions.  Otherwise it won't be clear what you mean, and mix ups will result. In important real world matters, it's best to use real world examples to ensure your abstraction matches reality, and is not a conflated memory or false interpretation (these happen a lot, I know because I find them in myself when I make sure to look).

What about...

Some communication I'll need to write about:

Various dimensions of communication that depart from "literally seriously true" etc.

Non-literal communication:

  • figurative, hyperbole, metaphor, analogy
  • fiction
  • humor, joking, not being "serious"
  • irony, sarcasm
  • some examples of "double entendre" euphemisms

Meaning that is non-analytic:

  • choice
    • changing the meaning
    • creating new meaning
  • deferred meaning (meaning will be created at a different time/place)
  • more than one meaning ("double entendre" etc.)
  • contradictory statements
  • meaning that is incidental (including coincidental or unpredicted meaning)

Non verbal:

  • well-defined non-verbal communication (like smiling, stamping feet)
  • behaviors (actions or inactions) that have not been assigned a definitive meaning (in this case, it is still possible to hypothesize what the behavior means, but these interpretations can be quite speculative) or has such meaning despite being assigned some other meaning

See also