Monday, May 28, 2018

The Art of Street Communication

There was a group of people in the main square this morning, shouting and waving flags. There often are. This was supposedly about an ongoing industrial dispute, workers and their company not seeing eye-to-eye.

I wonder, as I often do, who they were expecting to listen to them. I have not followed the details of the dispute, but there is one and they may well be right, or at least, entitled to take action, negotiate, strike, make their case to other people, ask for backing.

But who was listening? Certainly not the people they need to talk to, or anyone who can help them. It is likely they were fooled by union leaders who said this would be useful. It will be, but not to the workers. It might get the union chap in the papers, and help justify his existence and his salary.

So who are they talking to? They were surrounded by anti-democratic symbols, communist flags, anarchist flags, republican flags, waved by the usual hairy layabouts who want to be given other people’s money because it’s easier than working (this is a small place, and I know who many of them are). No normal person is going to be drawn to sympathise, or even to learn more about the dispute, which, as I say, may be legitimate, because of the company they keep. ‘They’ are not talking to anyone.

This is a failure of communication, because the message they want to get across is not the one they are in fact delivering. They have not analysed the context sufficiently and so have allowed other people to deliver a message which will do nothing for the workers. The other big question in communication, after ‘What do you have to say?’ is ‘Who do you want to say it to?’ The workers, the ones with a problem that they are trying to solve, did not seem to have worked it out.

This being La Mancha, the shouting and waving finished at 1.30 and they all went off to drink beer. We are civilised people, after all.

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