Based on a true story

‘You wouldn’t believe this guy’, Henri said in exasperation to Claus, ‘He’s an idiot. After explaining this process to him 4 times he still didn’t understand’. ‘Well, how were you explaining it to him?’, responded Claus. ‘I don’t know really, I felt like I was repeating myself over and over again. I explained what he had to do, then showed him how to do it. He wasn’t getting it, so I explained and showed him again. At a certain point he really started to annoy me, so I had to get away from him before saying something I might regret’. ‘And now you are here’, Claus said grinning. `yes’, responded Henri feeling better about his little outburst.

‘You know Henri, I am not sure who the idiot is in this story’, said Claus still grinning. ‘You had four chances to communicate the same message to someone… four chances. After the first attempt failed, you simply tried the same thing? Then again the same thing? Then again the same thing? You must recognize Henri that it is always the communicator that is at fault – as it is his or her job to pass the message. Never think that it is anyone’s fault other than the one doing the communication. If the message doesn’t pass, try something new. You have failed, not the listener’. Henri looked at Claus also with a grin and said ‘I guess that is another way of looking at it’. Realizing that his frustration, easy and convenient to blame on someone else, was in fact on himself.


Leadership will always be about communication in one way or another. The moment you are the communicator – you are responsible for all misunderstanding. Own it.

Communication is about connection and precision, but it is ultimately about the end state: comprehension. Sounds very simple, sounds like the most self-evident idea ever written in a food for thought, however… every single day, communicators do not own their responsibility. So perhaps it isn’t so simple after all.