The Art of Non-Communication by Polly Mann
The Art of Non-Communication
By Polly Mann August 1, 2011
What else could you call them – these letters designed not to communicate but rather to obfuscate?
Designed not only to obfuscate but also to inculcate a feeling of good-will in the recipient without imparting any real information or revealing the letter writer’s feelings. Politicians must have fil filled with samples of such letters to be sent constituents.
For example, a senator’s aide having read through a bag full of mail (or thousands of E-mail) about global warming could say to an assistant, “Send ‘em all Letter 23A in the file marked ‘natural catastrophes’ and close with a statement that we’ll notify them about any upcoming proposed changes in legislation.”
Such a letter would: 1) assure the constituent of the senator’s happiness on hearing from him/her; 2) agree that global warming is a threat and of major concern;; 3) declare that the senator is well aware and well versed on the dangers of global warming; and 4) thank the constituent for the letter and encourage him/her to write again.
It’s the same in the corporate world and I have before me a perfect example of a non-communicating letter. Facts and names have been somewhat modified. I had written the president of the corporation – let’s call it the Bullseye Company complaining about a $150,000 contribution it had made to a candidate whose campaign promises included proposing legislation that would eliminate: immigration, Medicare and corporate income taxes. I said in my letter I would no longer shop at Bullseye and would encourage all my friends to do likewise. Following is the response to my letter.
“Many of our guests make Bullseye a part of their life and that’s why we appreciate hearing your comments. At Bullseye we are fully committed to fostering an environment that supports and respects the rights and beliefs of all individuals. “
Although I can’t provide the personalized reply I know you’d like to receive, I encourage you to visit our Corporate web site, to find statements and information about Bullseye Civic activity and political contributions. Here’s the link: http//mediaroom.bullseye.com/usaidit.
I understand the disappointment and frustration that you’ve shared with me so I’ll be sure to share your comments with our executives.
Sincerely, (signed) Bessie Bideau, Bullseye Corporation Office of Public Relations
I firmly believe that non-communication is of such importance that scholars should turn their attention to it. College courses could be offered on the subject with a view toward dissecting and exposing the genre.
Polly Mann is co-founder of Women Against Military Madness.
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