Communicate using maxims of Grice

In our professional and personal life, communication plays a significant role. Communication occurs as either conversation or emails. You may find acquaintances who are superb in both modes while there are cases where people fail miserably.

I have come across colleagues who can confuse the audience every time they report daily or weekly status updates in person. While they are excellent in executing, they fail at communicating. As a result, their progress are reported by intermediaries in order to avoid confusion and also constant meandering from the objective. There is a bigger question about what is the value addition of these intermediaries. When compared to the bitterness generated in the person sidelined because of the communication style, the bigger question is less damaging.

How can we communicate well? There are many books and self-help articles about this. More you read it, more confused are you. Recently, I came across Grice's maxims. These are simple rules stating the framework of a conversation. We can use these maxims for designing our communication.

The maxims are 
  1. Maxim of Quality: Do not say what you believe is false. Do not say that which you lack adequate evidence.
  2. Maxim of Quantity: Make your contribution as informative as is required (for the current purpose of exchange). Do not make a contribution more informative than is required.
  3. Maxim of Relation - Be relevant.
  4. Maxim of Manner - Avoid obscurity or expression. Avoid ambiguity. Be brief. Be orderly
Note: The maxims are quoted from Wikipedia.

You may not become a star by following these maxims. But you will send the right messages and will not lose the interest of your audience. If we have their interest, then they are processing our message.

Tags: Musings, Communication, Grice


  1. Very well said. Communicatiosn should be brief, precise and to the point.

    1. The right amount of information with the right quality using the right words.


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