There is a lot to say about communication and indeed a lot have been said. Since I am already doing my part in adding to it I thought I would have a look at what else have been said. Wanting to illustrate it in so many ways as possible and with as many voices I could find did I go hunting for quotations. The following is hence some of the best quotations about communication that I could find when searching the various quotation sources.
“Communication is a continual balancing act, juggling the conflicting needs for intimacy and independence. To survive in the world, we have to act in concert with others, but to survive as ourselves, rather than simply as cogs in a wheel, we have to act alone.”
“In written communication, the imagination converts codes into a version of reality, and the mind reasons its way to judgments, convictions, and actions. With television, by contrast, movement, sound, and color rush experiences directly to the senses. The process moves from image to impression, to emotional impulse, and then to action. Sensation and emotional intensity dominate. The reflection and reasoning which verbal communication demand are bypassed. Another profound difference between television and writing is the way they collect and disseminate knowledge. Television absorbs the scenes within the range of its lenses, records the images, then diffuses them like a gas. It creates the illusion of reproducing life in its natural, multidimensional state. Languages, by contrast, convert life into artificial codes and organize them into artificial patterns.”
Michael J. O’Neill
“My God! The English language is a form of communication! Conversation isn’t just crossfire where you shoot and get shot at! Where you’ve got to duck for your life and aim to kill! Words aren’t only bombs and bullets—no, they’re little gifts, containing meanings!”
“The birth of thought in the depths of the spirit, the shaping and ordering of it into periods, the translation into signs, and above all the transference of it from one spirit to another, the communication that is, if only for an instant, the meeting of two beings, with the unforeseeable consequences that such a meeting always causes, is in fact a miracle; except that the moment one stops to think about it one can’t even write a letter.”
“The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choices words lose their power when they are used to overpower. Attitudes are the real figures of speech.”
Edwin H. Friedman
“There is more than a verbal tie between the words common, community, and communication…. Try the experiment of communicating, with fullness and accuracy, some experience to another, especially if it be somewhat complicated, and you will find your own attitude toward your experience changing.”
“When we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the “human essence, the distinctive qualities of mind that are, so far as we know, unique to man and that are inseparable from any critical phase of human existence, personal or social. Hence the fascination of this study, and, no less, its frustration. The frustration arises from the coming to grips with the core problem of human language, which I take to be this: having mastered a language, one is able to understand an indefinite number of expressions that are new to one’s experience, that bear no simply physical resemblance and are in no simple way analogous to the expressions that constitute one’s linguistic experience; and one is able … to produce such expressions on an appropriate occasion, despite their novelty…. The normal use of language is, in this sense, a creative activity. This creative aspect of normal language use is one fundamental factor that distinguishes human language from any known system of animal communication.”
“We cannot feel strongly toward the totally unlike because it is unimaginable, unrealizable; nor yet toward the wholly like because it is stale—identity must always be dull company. The power of other natures over us lies in a stimulating difference which causes excitement and opens communication, in ideas similar to our own but not identical, in states of mind attainable but not actual.”
Charles Horton Cooley
“I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking. It cannot be so easily discovered if you allow him to remain silent and look wise, but if you let him speak, the secret is out and the world knows that he is a fool. So it is by the exposure of folly that it is defeated; not by the seclusion of folly, and in this free air of free speech men get into that sort of communication with one another which constitutes the basis of all common achievement.”
“Everywhere one seeks to produce meaning, to make the world signify, to render it visible. We are not, however, in danger of lacking meaning; quite the contrary, we are gorged with meaning and it is killing us.”
I have always loved quotations. While they cannot replace complete works I find it fascinating how much you can pack into just a few words or sentences. Unlike reading the whole book or hearing the entire conversation they leave room for interpretation and reflection. They mean something different to different people and can yet act as facilitators of great thoughts and meaningful acts.