In 1155, King Henry II made his close friend, Thomas Beckett, Chancellor of England.

Together they partied, hunted, drank, enjoying vast wealth.

So in 1162, when it became vacant, Henry made Beckett the Archbishop of Canterbury, naturally assuming his friend would help him control the Church.

But Beckett became loyal to the Church and an opponent of Henry.

He opposed every move of Henry’s to exert control over the Church, excommunicating anyone who sided with Henry.

To the King this was intolerable, how could a man he promoted oppose his will?

After 8 years of constant battle he yelled in frustration: “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”

Four of his knights: Hugh de Morville, Richard le Bret, William de Tracy, and Reginald FitzUrse decided to answer their master’s plea.

They rode to Canterbury and murdered Becket in the Cathedral, in front of the alter.

Which was when they found out Henry hadn’t actually meant it as a request, just as a rhetorical statement.

But by that time it was too late, the murdered Thomas Beckett was made a Saint by the Pope and King Henry II lost all chance at controlling the Church.

All because of bad communication: sloppy language = sloppy briefing.

In 1854 the British were fighting the Russians in Crimea.

The Light Brigade were waiting impatiently to be told what to do.

On a hill above, Lord Raglan saw Russian cavalry towing away some captured cannons, he sent a message to Lord Cardigan telling the Light Brigade to take the guns.

Captain Nolan delivered the message but, from the valley where the Light Brigade was, they couldn’t see the guns being towed away.

Lord Cardigan blustered: “Guns, what guns?’

Captain Nolan wasn’t looking, he just gestured toward the general area saying: “Over there are your guns my Lord.”

But all Cardigan could see was dozens of Russian cannons at the other end of the valley.

So the Light Brigade charged against the guns they could see and were massacred, they lost 469 men out of 600.

All because of bad communication: sloppy language = sloppy briefing.

In 1952, two teenagers broke into a warehouse in Croydon.

Derek Bentley was 19, Christopher Craig was 16 and had a gun.

The police were called and Bentley was arrested, a Detective said to Craig “Hand over the gun lad”.

Bentley, who was already held by the police, shouted “Let him have it, Chris.”

Craig shot the detective, then shot and killed a constable.

At their trial, Craig and Bentley were both charged with murder, known as ‘joint enterprise’.

The prosecution case was that ‘Let him have it, Chris” didn’t men ‘Give him the gun’ it meant ‘Shoot him’.

Craig and Bentley were both found guilty of murder. Craig was imprisoned because he wasunder 18. Bentley was hanged, because he was over 18.

All because of bad communication: sloppy language = sloppy briefing.

You find that a lot in our business, marketing people are more interested in using the latest jargon than communicating.

Their brief will be full of language designed to impress other marketing people rather than simple, plain, unambiguous words.

Language to make them look trendy rather than to clarify and simplify the job to be done.

And we can all see the result: sloppy language = sloppy briefing.