Thursday, May 7, 2015

Effective Communication

Some three decades ago, we used different exercises in classrooms during the training sessions on "Effective Communication" and "Effect of Communication". One of them is still fresh in my memory.  This was about  a Manager and his subordinate officer.  Manager was required to send a confidential report to the Regional Manager about the officer, for considering his name for promotion.  This is what he wrote to the Regional Manager:

While working with Mr Natavar Lal I have found him
working studiously and sincerely at his table without
idling or gossiping with colleagues in the office.  He seldom
wastes his time on useless things.  Given a job, he always
finishes the given assignment in time.  He will always be 
deeply engrossed in his official work, and can never be 
found chit-chatting in the canteen.  He has absolutely no 
vanity in spite of his high accomplishment and profound
knowledge of his field.  I think he can easily be 
classed as outstanding and on no account be 
dispensed with.  I strongly feel that Mr Natavar Lal should be 
pushed to accept promotion and a proposal to administration be
sent out as soon as possible.

He signed the letter and gave it to Mr Natavar Lal for dispatching it to the Regional Office. After ensuring that the letter was indeed dispatched, he telephoned the Regional Manager and told him to read the alternate lines as his true recommendation.
Recently a friend has sent me a piece on a conversation between a boy and his girl friend. She accepts his proposal and he is excited.  It reads like this:

He:   Yes! at last.  It was so hard to wait.
She: Do you want me to leave?
He:   No, Don't even think of it.
She: Do you love me?
He:   Of course! Over and over!
She: Have you ever cheated me?
He:   No! Why are you even asking?
She: Will you go on with me on a picnic?
He:   Every chance I get!
She: Will you hit me?
He:   Are you crazy?  I am not that kind of a person.
She: Can I trust you?
He:   Yes.......
She: Darling!

There is a footnote, though I do not agree with it.  It says, after the marriage, read the same conversation from bottom to top.

A teacher wrote on the board, the following sentence and asked the students to punctuate it: "Woman without her man is nothing"

All the boys wrote: "Woman, without her man, is nothing"

All the girls wrote:  "Woman!  Without her, man is nothing"


Construction of passages like the above require considerable skills and application of mind. It is often an intellectual exercise and many frown on them as meaningless and useless. The first example above gives two meanings when read in full and alternate lines. History has recorded that there were scholars who could create an entire work of poetry (not merely a passage like the ones above) where each verse would give two meanings and tell two different stories!

Sri Krishnadevaraya, Vijayanagara King who ruled between 1509 and 1529 was a patron of performing arts and literature.  His court was embellished by eight poets known as "Ashta Diggajas". The term represents the eight legendary giant elephants that hold the earth on their backs.  Allasani Peddana, Nandi Timmanna, Dhurjati, Madayyagari Mallana, Ayyalagari Ramabhadru, Tenali Ramakrishna, Ramarajabhushunudu and Pingali Suranna were the eight great poets that constituted the Ashtadiggajas in the King's court. One of these, Pingali Suranna had a title "Kaviraja Pandita".  He has written a kavya by name "Raghava Pandaveeyam".  This is in "Dvayarthi Style", which means that each verse gives two meanings.  One meaning tells the story of Ramayana and the other about Mahabharata and Lord Krishna.  Hence the name "Raghava Pandaveeyam". It is also recorded that one Vemulavada Bheemakavi had written a similar kavya in the 14th century itself, but it is not available now.

The second example above (conversation between a boy and his girlfriend and later husband-wife) is an example of "Anuloma-Viloma" kruti.  This is also nothing new.  One Arasanapalai Venkitacharya of 17th century, better known as Venkatadhwari, has written a Sanskrit kavya  by name "Raghava Yadaveeyam" which again tells the story of Ramayana and Mahabharata.  Each verse when read in the normal way tells the story of Ramayana. When the same verses are read in the reverse order, you get the story of Lord Krishna and Mahabharata!

Our ancient literature in Sanskrit as well as other Indian Languages is replete with such intellectual exercises and interesting creations.  Unfortunately we are losing them fast and the younger generation does not even know that such a vast treasure is available well within our backyard.


  1. Sir, it is a very good piece on abstract components of communication. Indeed, every word that we write or utter has multidimensional edges.

  2. Excellent and rarely shared piece of information. We have traveled hundreds and hundreds of years backward by neglecting such a rich literature and Indian culture.

  3. One correction I wish to bring to your notice. Venkatadhvari wrote 'Raghava-Yadaveeyam' in Sanskrit, the original version is available and a copy is with me. It was translated in English by Dr. Saroja Ramanujam of Chennai and Kannada by U. H. Subrahmanya. The Kannada version was published by Pustakashakti Prakashana of Bangalore and the publisher is a friend of mine, Y K Mohan. I have this Kannada version with me. Both Sanskrit and English versions can be downloaded from the Internet.
    I had read somewhere that your first example of reading between the lines has been the essence of most of the secret codings in earlier days.
    It is really nice to read your articles. They are very easily read and at the same time very enlightning too. Thanks for keeping me in your address list - Bhavani

  4. sir, it is excellant. I thoroughly enjoyed the reading.

  5. nice narration on communication and interesting. Some of the quotes can be used in our Classes. Thank you.
    But one lesson I have realized on communication become a good communicator, first one should be a good listener and a good reader and then try to become a good communicator. But most of our youngsters only do the third and they never do the first two.

  6. Excellent article on Communication. Indeed, the article is very much on the subtle nature of communication. Good One Sir...