Drucker on Functioning Communications, Part 1

In his book, The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management, Peter Drucker analyzed the ways that management practices and principles affect the performance of organizations, individuals, and society. The book covers the basic principles of management and gives professionals the tools to perform the tasks that the environment of tomorrow will require of them.

These are my takeaways from reading the book.

Drucker believed that there are four fundamentals of communications. Three of them are:

  1. Communication is perception.
  2. Communication is expectation.
  3. Communication makes demands.

True communication can only begin when the receiver perceives something from the sender and responds back. This receiver-first concept means that it is the recipient who initiates communication, not sender. Until the receiver responds with something back to the sender, there is no communication, only noise.

Communication can happen only when the sender attempts to communicate in the recipient’s language. Therefore, Drucker suggested that the first question in communicating must be, Is this communication within the recipient’s range of perception? Can he receive it?

Effective communication also must account for expectation. As a rule, we see largely what we expect to see and hear largely what we expect to hear. We also tend to tune out sights and sounds that we did not expect to take in and process. For us, those extraneous sights and sounds are merely noise.

That is because the human mind attempts to fit impressions and stimuli into a frame of expectations. We resist vigorously any attempts to make us “change our minds” or perceive anything that is contrary to our expectations or breaks our psychological continuity.

It is imperative that we must know what the recipient expects to see and hear before we attempt to communicate. Only then can we know whether communication can utilize the other person’s expectations to receive the message or be more receptive to the message that might consider being contrary or disruptive to the expectations.

Communication always makes some demands. It always demands that the recipient become somebody, do something, or believe something. If communication fits in with the aspirations, the values, the purposes of the recipient, it is powerful because it appeals to motivation. If communication goes against the aspirations, the values, or the motivations, it is likely not to be received or to be resisted by the recipient.