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Difficulty in communication

Di Antonio Caneva, 2 luglio 2015

Good intentions are not enough for good communication; it is necessary to assess the sensitivities of the people we speak to and / or the possible repercussions that may arise. A few recent episodes come to my mind.
In one of the latest issues of l’Espresso, Eugenio Scalfari reminisced the birth of the weekly magazine in a long article. Everything fine up to this point. Then he launched into an extravagant praise of the magazine, such as “it should not seem an exaggeration to speak of a revolution: l’Espresso overturned the prevailing values and traditional habits, fought against conservative, male chauvinist, corporatist and clerical Italy; became the bearer of new rights and new duties, inspired a new political vision, new alliances, new interests ….” and so on and so forth in the same tone. Perhaps greater modesty would have been preferable, and less disagreeable to the reader? We should also not forget that all this “élan” finds itself within a business context, i.e. the publishing business.
We often do not realise that communicating is a sensitive business, requiring attention and moderation. Before the issue of the Greek public debt exploded so dramatically, an Italian tour operator with activities in Greece sent out a release singing the praise of holidays in the Hellenic country, and stating that there were no dangers for travellers, with the only result to elicit memories of past years, when in some islands there were problems finding supplies, difficulties for aircraft to find fuel, and therefore difficulties for tourists to go back home.
The President of Slovakia was present at Expo 2015 last Wednesday, and in order to celebrate its National Day, which was on that date, the country organised an important musical event, with the participation of a symphonic orchestra, a ballet of 40 dancers and an impressive chorus. The performance was to start at 8.30 p.m. in the large auditorium inside the exhibition area. At the set time, the about a thousand seats were all occupied, and people were just waiting for the show to start. 8.35, 8.40, 8.45 and nothing happened. The audience began to grow impatient, and the speaker announced “We apologise for the delay, due to fact that we are waiting for the Slovak and Italian delegation to arrive”. You can imagine the boos. Out of many possible justifications, this was maybe the worst (even if it was truthful), so much so that when the delegates arrived at 9 o’clock they were hailed by a chorus of boos, and the Slovak President delivered his speech in a frigid atmosphere (which was probably not the goal of the evening… ).
They say that before speaking (before communicating our thought) we should count to ten, but maybe it is not enough: better count to at least one hundred.

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