Rant Ahead!

I’ve developed an involuntary twitch in my forehead. Every time I hear the superfluous “S” at the end of communication. You might be thinking “Oh Michelle, you are being silly – it’s just an extra “S” what difference does it make?”

There is a HUGE divide between communication and communications. Saying there is not is like saying PEZ candy and dark chocolate are the same thing – they’re both candy right?

The difference between communication and communications

CommunicationS is a system for transmitting information – think telephone, TV, fiber optics. Communications is technology. Your cable guy – he’s a communications professional.

Communication involves individuals exchanging messages. Communication is human. It’s people. Communication is connection. It’s soulful. It’s what we do every single day.

I had a recent altercation with a well-known “communications expert” (his S not mine) on Forbes. He wrote an article about the key to leadership is communications. After reading the article, I knew he wasn’t discussing communications technology. He was talking about human interaction.

I felt the twitch and left a comment.

He told me “Alas, the people use communications. I’m with the people.” He also threw in the word pedantic. Two problems with this:

1. If you claim to speak the language of the people, you can’t use words like “pedantic” or “alas” that just makes you look like an ass.

2. If you are an expert and sell your services as a communication coach, you should know the difference. If you’re an authority, people learn from you. You are the conduit of correct information. Using the word that is at the core of your business incorrectly hurts your credibility.

Bottom line: Buyer beware – if you’re reading an article or considering a hiring a coach and you see the extra “S,” keep looking unless you need your TV or telephone fixed.