Grice's Maxims Pythonic Edition

Which is better verbose paragraphs or lean and on point sentences? Why communication with other people can sometimes be so hard sometimes, even though we you are discussing basic things? Why sometimes we get frustrated with other people speaking? Why sometimes you lose your marbles when someone else skips steps in a tutorial, uses incorrect technical term or when someone assumes something to be true without asserting his assumption?

Well in most cases it comes down to basic psychology during an any transaction, verbal, economic or other. These transactions don't even have to be between two people, because we get mad and frustrated about objects as well.

For example, your phone dies when it had 25% of battery, you probably get mad and say "What a piece of crap, I can't believe 25% of my battery only lasted few minutes".

You get mad because of these 2 things: first there is expected outcome, second is actual outcome. When we expect more from a phone's battery than it can actually deliver, we get angry! This paradigm of looking at transactions extends to various places as well as our daily lives. One of the places is language and communication in general. If someone says one thing and does another, we get angry because we expected one thing and actually got something entirely different.

One philosopher who tried to tackle this problem was Paul Grice He distilled and abstracted the rules needed for successful communication and these rules are now called Grice's Maxims these maxims should help you out to cooperate better and to understand why sometimes you annoy or get annoyed by others.

In general these maxims are great, but for me were rather "dry" and hard to remember while Zen Of Python for some weird reason just sticks in your head. Thus Grice's Maxims Pythonic Edition was born. Furthermore Zen Of Python on its own can be used daily in some life situations.

1. Quantity

More informative is better than less informative, although conciseness beats verbosity.

2. Quality

Provable is better than unprovable.

In the face of uncertainty, refuse the temptation to say things you may think are false. If your claim has no supporting evidence it's a bad idea, if your claim has supporting evidence maybe it's a good Idea.

3. Relation

Relevant is better than irrelevant.

4. Manner

Certainty is better than obscurity.

Clarity is better than ambiguity.

Brief is better than lengthy.

Order is better than chaos.


I hope this short post was useful. These maxims should help you to be a better speaker and listener as long as you will not forget the reason why you get derailed. Remember it is easier to change yourself and your outlook rather than the people around you. So go try to be a better communicator by using at least few rules I presented.