Thursday, June 6, 2013

Information vs Communication

Book Review: Dialogue Gap by Peter Nixon

"Where is the life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" - T.S. Eliot

In Dialogue Gap, Peter Nixon defines communication as the exchange of information, and dialogue as the active sharing of ideas and knowledge. Terminology aside, the idea is that there is a difference between simply relaying information and actually gaining knowledge and wisdom. A surfeit of information -- much of it unreliable or just wrong -- is as close as your computer, tablet, or smart phone. Knowledge and wisdom are not so readily accessible, requiring action and interaction.

At a certain level,Dialogue Gap reads more like a textbook than the standard management "how-to" book, (for example, The Truth About Managing People) so it may put off readers who are used to a more practical than theoretical approach. Admittedly, Nixon can come off a little preachy at times, perhaps forgetting who his target audience may be. But this does not negate the importance and relevance of his message: that in our seemingly endless quest for increasing amounts of information, our ability to communicate (or dialog) is decreasing to a 140 character limit.

"The two words 'information' and 'communication' are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through." - Sydney J. Harris

Peter Nixon gives us a prescription for getting through - put down the cell phones, turn off the computer, and TALK. Revolutionary ... and simple. All it takes is a complete change of mindset. Give it a try.