Effective Communication requires more than just Good Communication.

Matt Schellhas
12 min readDec 24, 2022
DALL-E: “A Salvador Dali style surrealist oil painting of a melting brain”

I have written in the past about communication through the lens of information conveyance. That is a useful model for coaching people (usually engineers) to focus more on the audience’s understanding than on their own highly precise broadcast.

I have written in the past about communication failure when collaboration is needed instead. That is a useful model to get people to talk to each other rather than at each other.

These two focused on aspect of the “how” of workplace communication. You’d think that “why” we communicate at work would be somewhat obvious: to convey information. If you’re reading this article, you are almost certainly a knowledge worker. And you’d naturally think “Why would we communicate if not to spread knowledge?” — but conveying information is the most basic, most foundational answer. Unless your goal is to cover your ass, simply informing people is rarely enough.

At work, the end goal of communication is to change peoples’ minds. Telling someone something that they already know isn’t valuable. Giving someone information that they don’t care about wastes their time. Providing feedback that someone can’t act on frustrates them to no end. Knowledge is important, but decisions are what shape the world around us.