Top 40 Communication Quotes
No 1 (Best quote!)
Think like a wise man but express yourself like the common people
- W. B. Yeats 1865–1939 Irish poet, pictured right.
Brevity is the soul of wit, (wit meaning skill).
(Polonius in Hamlet)
Shakespeare (1564–1616), English playwright, pictured right.
I detest jargon of every kind.
(Marianne in Sense and Sensibility)
- Jane Austen (1775-1817), English
writer, pictured right
The problem with the world today is communication. Too much communication.
- Homer Simpson (in The Simpsons TV
series), pictured right.
Email is particularly problematic:
Emails get in the way of serious consideration of
what you want to do.
- Bob Geldof (1951-), businessman and
campaigner for Africa, pictured right.
We have two ears and one mouth that we may listen the more and talk the less.
- Zeno of Citium (334-262 BC), Greek philosopher, pictured right.
So Polonius in Shakespeare's, pictured right, play Hamlet says:
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.
Bing Crosby (1903-77), pictured right, the American singer, also comments:
I listen a lot and talk less. You can't learn anything when you're talking.
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), the American writer,pictured right, defines a bore as:
A person who talks when you wish him to listen
The best communication forces you to listen.
- Max De Pree, pictured right, Leadership Is An Art (1987)
Listen with the ear of the heart.
- St. Benedict (480-547), pictured
right, Italian founder of the famous Benedictine Order of monks
I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.
- Confucius (551–479 BC), Chinese
philosopher, pictured right.
Confucius also says:
He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.
The superior man is modest in his speech but exceeds in his actions
Suit the action to the word, the word to the action
(Hamlet in Hamlet)
Shakespeare 1564–1616 English dramatist, pictured right.
I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
- Voltaire (1694-1778), French
writer and philosopher, pictured right.
Benedict (or Baruch)
Spinoza (1632-77), pictured right. the Dutch philosopher, agrees:
Every man should think what he likes and say what he thinks,
A memorandum is written not to inform the reader but to protect the writer.
- Dean Acheson (1893–1971) American politician, pictured right.
One picture is worth ten thousand words.
- Fred R. Barnard, American advertising manager.
Words are cheap.
- Charlie Chaplin (1889–1977), English film star, pictured right.
Why, a four-year-old child could understand this report. Run out and find me a four-year-old child. I can't make
head or tail of it.
- Groucho Marx (1890-1977), American comedian (in the film Duck Soup), pictured right.
Language is the dress of thought.
- Samuel Johnson (1709–84) English writer, pictured right.
If…sometimes you need to conceal a fact with words, do it in such a way that it does not become known, or, if it
does become known, that you have a ready and quick defence,
Machiavelli (1469–1527) Italian philosopher, pictured right.
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.
- Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81), British
prime minister, pictured right
One’s feelings waste themselves in words. They ought to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring
Nightingale (1820-1910), pictured right, English nurse.
Deeds not words.
- the slogan of the British Suffragettes, pictured right.
So the American politician, philosopher and inventor, Benjamin Franklin (1706-90),
pictured right below, says:
Great talkers, little doers.
You can detect an organization’s heart by looking at its language.
- Charles Handy, pictured right, in The Gods of Management (1985).
You don’t understand something, unless you can explain it to your grandmother.
- Albert Einstein (1879-1955),
German-born American scientist, pictured right.
Einstein also says:
Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove doubt.
- Abraham Lincoln (1809-65), pictured right,
Mark Twain (1835-1910), the American writer, pictured right, agrees:
Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove
To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.
- René Descartes (1596-1650),
French philosopher, pictured right.
When you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.
- St. Francis of
Assisi (1182-1226), Italian monk and philosopher, pictured right.
Gibran (1883-1931), the Lebanese-born American philosopher,
pictured right, agrees:.
Let the spirit in you move your lips and direct your
I would have answered your letter sooner but you didn't send one.
- Goodman Ace (1899-1982), American writer (pictured right).
Every word is a prejudice.
Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher, pictured right.
I have made this [letter] longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.
- Blaise Pascal (1623-62),
French mathematician, physicist and philosopher, pictured right.
No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth.
- Plato (427-347 BC), Greek philosopher,
Plato also says:
Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something,
The oldest, shortest words— 'yes' and 'no'— are those which require the most thought.
- Pythagorus (c.570-495 BC), Greek philosopher and mathematician, pictured right.
False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.
- Socrates (470-399 BC), Greek
philosopher, pictured right.
Don’t ask for the meaning, ask for the use.
Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian-born British philosopher, pictured right.
The only way to truly know a person is to argue with them...then they reveal their true character.
- Anne Frank (1929-1945), Jewish victim of
the Holocaust, pictured right.
I will not retreat a single inch – and I will be heard!
- William Lloyd
Garrison (1805-79), American abolitionist, pictured right.
Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts upon the unthinking.
- John Maynard
Keynes (1883-1946), English economist, pictured right.
We must reinforce argument with results.
- Booker T.
Washington (1856-1915), African American leader, pictured right.
The English writer and politician, C.P. Scott (1846-1932), pictured right, says that facts
are also important:
Comment is free but facts are sacred.
There is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood by those who hear it.
- William James (1842-1910),
American psychologist and philosopher, pictured right.
There are things the heart feels but which the tongue and even the mind cannot express.
- Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-97), French nun, pictured right.
Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.
(Svidrigailov in Crime and
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-81), Russian writer, pictured right
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
(Claudius in Hamlet)
Shakespeare (1564-1616), English playwright, pictured right
Brabantio in Shakespeares's Othelloalso comments:
Words are words. I never did hear that the bruised
heart was pierced through the ear.
If you are ever at a loss to support a flagging conversation, introduce the subject of eating.
- Leigh Hunt (1784-1859), English writer, pictured right.