Jason Fried

April 26, 2024

Osmo Wiio: Communication usually fails, except by accident

Osmo Wiio was a Finnish researcher of human communication. His laws of communication are the human communications equivalent of Murphy’s Laws.

Wiio's laws state...

  • If communication can fail, it will.
  • If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just that way which does the most harm.
  • There is always somebody who knows better than you what you meant by your message.
  • The more communication there is, the more difficult it is for communication to succeed.

And I particularly like his observation that anytime there are two people conversing, there are actually six people in the conversation:

  1. Who you think you are
  2. Who you think the other person is
  3. Who you think the other person thinks you are
  4. Who the other person thinks they are
  5. Who the other person thinks you are
  6. Who the other person thinks you think they are.

I'd say he's spot on across the board.


About Jason Fried

Hey! I'm Jason, the Co-Founder and CEO at 37signals, makers of Basecamp and HEY. Subscribe below to follow my thinking on business, design, product development, and whatever else is on my mind. Thanks for visiting, thanks for reading.