JS Tip 453: Problems in Communication III

From the Communication Workshops: Problems in Communication, Part III

Some Background

For two weeks now, we’ve been talking about failed communications. We defined communication as “the intact transfer of an idea from one person to another.”

We’re going waaaay back in history for this example.  

A Third Case Study

In 1162, King Henry II of England appointed his friend Thomas Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury—the head of the church in England. But, as Becket took his new position, his loyalties shifted from the King to the Church. The King and the Archbishop clashed repeatedly.

At Christmas, 1170, Henry cried out to those around him, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

Four of the King’s knights (Reginald FitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton interpreted the outcry as an order, traveled to Canterbury, and murdered Becket during his prayers.

Henry claimed that was not his intent (but never punished the murdering four). He later took responsibility and offered penance.

A Discussion

We’ve talked about this before.

What was the intended idea? The knights understood one thing; Henry claimed another.

What was the perceived idea? That’s pretty clear: murder. Execution. Death.

The communication wasn’t clear. (Or maybe it was.)

We’ll offer some solutions to the problems next week.

Mark Brooks