Yesterday we discussed the fully institutionalized fallacy of "strategic communication," which implies that one can flap one's lips (or tap one's computer keys) with a faulty assumption of orderly intent, execution and a measurable outcome.
If communication were anything like that, I reckon I wouldn't be as afraid of it as I am—professionally, or personally.
I dread a business cocktail party, even though I'm the extroverted head of a professional communication association. I know an outgoing industry leader like me who found himself alone at one, and panicked. He answered his wallet and ran out of the room, pretending it was an emergency call. It was an emergency call.
I dread a lunch with someone I don't know. I usually arrive 30 minutes early—10 to be safe, 20 more to psyche myself up in the parking lot. And looking at our menus and deciding what we want: This is the hour of lead.
I dread telephone conversations. How many times have I readied myself for a big call—even one that could offer a real opportunity if it goes well—and as the other phone rings, I find myself hoping Obama won't pick up after all and I can just go back to my regular day?
That's because I dread communication.
I dread it like I dread a long run in January, because of the energy it will demand and the pain it will entail.
I dread it because at least half of it is out of my control, which means the whole thing is out of my control, because who the fuck knows what I'm going to say, let alone what the other person is.
I dread it because it happens so fast, and because it can get out of hand and it can go all the way bad.
I dread it because it involves bodily fluids and electrical impulses and rhythm and God knows what else.
I dread it because it is unpredictable—a big argument with your wife, or sex with not your wife, or opening the envelope, or hearing the results, or feet on the stairs, or death itself.
I dread it because it is communication.
(I love it because it is communication.)
But if it's not scary, it's not communication.
And if it's communication, it sure is not "strategic."