Episode 186 – When In Doubt Use A Pile Driver, Or Mumble

1. When in charge, ponder. 2. When in trouble, delegate. 3. When in doubt, mumble.

Winston Churchill once said, 

If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.

A 1972 price tag

In 1972 I stumbled onto a terrifically dry, witty book by James Boren, When In Doubt, Mumble. Dry. Witty. Funny. I instantly liked it and it’s among many books I’ve held onto for a long time.

As a lifelong student of communication, Boren’s message resonated with me, especially within a few years after it was released. America had a small scandal called Watergate that resulted in congressional hearings. I admit it was my first foray into congressional hearings and the mumbling that goes in our nation’s capital.

Prior to that I just thought Boren was a funny guy mocking the bureaucrats. I had no idea he either taught the master class in mumbling or he was just so incredibly observant as to capture the true essence of it. It was remarkable communication and I was fascinated at the skill required to talk for so long – many of these hearings went on for months and years – and say absolutely nothing. Most congressional hearings accomplished even less — a feat that defies logic and the laws of science. Our government is truly extraordinary!

This week, as the United States government went on hiatus, I started thinking about Boren’s book again. Naturally, that sparked thoughts about our communication skills and styles. Which, in turn, sparks today’s podcast.


Mentioned in today’s show:

Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

Genesis record of Adam & Eve blaming each other

Leaning Toward Wisdom, the episode I reference is 4005

Breaking Bad (like all things, it’s morphs into, “Now what?”)

• Kaizen

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