Osmo Wiio: Communication usually fails, except by accident

Osmo Wiio is a Finnish researcher of human communication. He has studied, among other things, readability of texts, organizations and communication within them, and the general theory of communication. His laws of communication are the human communications equivalent of Murphy’s Laws.

  • If communication can fail, it will.
  • If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just that way which does the most harm.
  • There is always somebody who knows better than you what you meant by your message.
  • The more communication there is, the more difficult it is for communication to succeed.

And I particularly like his observation that anytime there are two people conversing, there are actually six people in the conversation:

  1. Who you think you are
  2. Who you think the other person is
  3. Who you think the other person thinks you are
  4. Who the other person thinks he/she is
  5. Who the other person thinks you are
  6. Who the other person thinks you think he/she is

If you find this interesting, you can read more about Osmo and his theories on communication.

One thought on “Osmo Wiio: Communication usually fails, except by accident

  1. Least known by both (and discussed by any mainstream information/culture), who you, and who they, are also are in the conversation, and much more centrally than the other 6.

    What goes on is a result of the action of mostly those 2: that’s why it bears little resemblance with what the egos believe goes on, and society with its interpretative authorities (psychiatrists, social scientists, …) does not either — or, at any rate, they need to do as if they don’t

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