Beware! COMMUNICATION GAP Can Be Disastrous! djjs blog

Do you know that the sun rises nearly two minutes before it actually rises and sets two minutes later than it actually sets? Actually, when the sun rays enter the earth's atmosphere, they get refracted by various particles existing in the earth's atmosphere before reaching the observer's eyes. As a result, the viewer visualises the altered position of a rising as well as setting sun. Meaning by, what we perceive is not the actual picture. Before the reality can reach us, the particles in the atmosphere distort it. Friends, does the same thing not happen most of the times, when we communicate with others? Before the speaker's message reaches us, the particles of our prejudices, perceptions, notions, beliefs, etc. interfere and distort the signal. Result? Communication gaps, disrespect, infidelity, relationship instability, and so on. Therefore, it becomes crucial for the two parties to thoroughly analyse the incoming signal before opting for retaliation or an extreme mode of response. Here are some incidents from the repositories of history, which highlight how a small misunderstanding or communication gap or a misperception can lead to undesirable results…


In 1998-99, NASA was on a mission to deploy its Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO) along with a Mars Polar Lander on Mars for various scientific estimations. Unfortunately, the navigation team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) used the metric system (of meters and millimeters) for calculations; whereas Lockheed Martin Astronautics, that designed and built the spacecraft used the English system (of inches and pounds). None of the departments cared to check and coordinate on this crucial aspect and simply followed their own ways. Due to the accidental incoordination of the two teams, the project turned to ashes as they lost the track of the spaceship. It not only resulted in a vain attempt or a financial doom to the nation, but also led to sleepless nights on both the sides.

The above example is a case of unintentional antagonism that arose from a communication gap. However, what happens in our case? Leave aside the scope of 'unintentional' enmity or discord due to the absence of synchronisation; we, rather, consciously turn reluctant to coordinate with our comrades due to our soaring egos. Moreover, when the error is discovered, instead of focussing on solving the problem, we indulge in blame-game and heated arguments. Ultimately, it results in extreme suffocation between the two sides and we end up in losing the relationship.


During the Second World War, British feared an underwater attack from Germans. Therefore, they posted submarines in different sectors of the ocean for patrolling. As the HMS Triton (British submarine) was about to declare its area clean, it received signals of some object approaching nearby, which was later confirmed to be a submarine. So, it got ready with its torpedoes but doubted that it could be another British submarine (and it actually was Oxley, another British submarine that had mistakenly entered in their area). So, the Lieutenant Commander Steel sent three challenges (underwater recognition signals) to confirm his  doubt but received no response. Finally, in the last try, he fired a rifle grenade carrying a friendly message, but again failed to receive a response. He thus concluded it to be a German submarine. Subsequently, on the count of 15, he ordered the firing of torpedoes, resulting into the explosion of Oxley. When Triton went for inspection of the left overs, it realised its blunder on seeing its own men drowning. It could only save two of them. In later stages of enquiry, it was found that Oxley tried

to respond to the signals sent to it, but it lost the communication signals due to the unfavourable conditions. In response to the friendly grenade also, Oxley had fired one; but that too failed to work. And before it could reset the things (15 seconds), it was blown into pieces.

Certainly, it was the case of situational crisis when both the sides were helpless. The side that was sending the signals could not wait unduly long, as then there was a risk that if the submarine belonged to their rival, it would harm them. And the side receiving the signals could not have done anything but succumb to the technical failure.

But, what about us? Contrary to the situational crisis, where none can do anything, we just do not give any scope to each other, despite there being enough possibility of mending the situation.

We straightaway hit the other person in the heat of the moment. Result? Catastrophe on one or both the sides, which otherwise could have been avoided, had there been some patience and understanding.


We know Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing is the most condemned atomic attack in the war history. Millions of lives were devastated. When the causes of the attack were being analysed, one major reason that came to light was a huge interpretation mistake. During the Second World War, a lot of tension grew between Japan and countries like US, Russia, China. Japan was warned by the US to either surrender or else face the worst destructive consequences. The, then Prime Minister of Japan, Kantaro Suzuki, in response said– 'Mokusatsu'. This Japanese word actually holds two meanings; one, 'to ignore' and second, 'withholding comment'. The PM meant the latter version i.e. right then they were not in a position to comment regarding the matter. However, the US interpreter interpreted that they were ignoring the matter. Result? The very next moment a bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on 6th August, 1945 and then, 3 days later, on Nagasaki, laying lakhs of people on death bed and leaving millions handicapped.

Again, what happens in our case? Leave aside our choice of action in case of confusion, which is beyond doubt always explosive and catastrophic, like above; but even when there is a scope of giving a second thought, we just brush it aside. Our mind-sets are atrociously negative and restless today, that we simply fail to see the positive side of the person, and straightaway opt for clashes and separation!

Therefore, let's try and fill our relationships with the lively shades of concord and understanding; as someone has rightly said, “Misunderstanding is the worst enemy of human relationships.”

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