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A Shining Example of Communication and Conflict
By Don Doman

Summary: Using examples from several well known movies (The Shining, 2001 A Space Odyssey), the author explains the link between conflict and communication as it exists within the workplace.

Lack of communication is a major cause of conflict. In feature films, no communication equals conflict and conflict means a possible Academy Award. In business, no communication equals conflict and this means a possibility of no profit and no business.

The great filmmaker Stanley Kubrick constantly used communications as his element of conflict in his feature films. The Shining (a man goes mad in a closed-up hotel cut off from the outside world), 2001 A Space Odyssey (a moon base has been out of phone communication for ten days), Full-metal Jacket (during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam a military patrol is unable to communicate with headquarters), and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb (U.S. bombers are sent within the Soviet Union and out of communication) are all examples of communication problems leading to conflict and box office popularity.

With communication and conflict, the problem is: someone knows something, but is unable or unwilling to tell someone else and problems arise. This happens between characters in novels or feature films, between members of an organization, between husbands and wives, and almost every day between management and employees under their supervision.

One of my favorite business communication training videos is called Best of Motives: Informing and Involving. The aim of the presentation is to ensure managers inform and involve their teams in order to improve motivation and productivity.

“Research shows that the two most common complaints in organizations worldwide are 'nobody ever tells us' and 'nobody ever asks us'. The Best Of Motives consists of two videos which tackle each of these issues.”
– Ad copy for The Best of Motives Communication Training Video

The video uses humor to illustrate the problems that surface when communication doesn’t happen.

Everyone always has a reason for not communicating. “You’re not seeing the bigger picture” and “We operate on a need to know basis” are popular excuses from management for not communicating. They are not good excuses. “I didn’t want to bother you” and “I thought we could handle it” are popular excuses from employees on all fronts for not communicating. Again, they are not good excuses. Communication needs to flow equally between management and employees – both up and down the ladder as well as between employees and between management.

Forget about winning an Oscar. Leave conflict to feature films. We need communication to survive. Communication is like oxygen. Without it we suffocate. Communication breathes life into business.

Author Don Doman: Don is a published author of books for small business, corporate video producer, and owner of Ideas and Training (, which provides business training products. Don also owns Human Resources Radio (, which provides business training programs and previews 24-hours a day.

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