OK, they sound a bit pretentious but Grice’s Maxims are incredibly useful and they are four principles of communication that we keep coming back to them when we are working with learners in the workplace.

Here they are:

  1. The maxim of quantity, where one tries to be as informative as one possibly can, and gives as much information as is needed, but no more.
  2. The maxim of quality, where one tries to be truthful, and does not give information that is false or that is not supported by evidence.
  3. The maxim of relation, where one tries to be relevant, and says things that are pertinent to the discussion.
  4. The maxim of manner, when one tries to be as clear, as brief, and as orderly as one can in what one says, and where one avoids obscurity and ambiguity.


I’m not sure where these images originally came from but they make the point quite well:


Gricean Maxims

Yes. Grice was onto something and his Maxims give a great framework for feeding back to workplace learners about their language use. You can apply them to any field. They are also a useful frame of reference for analysing workplace language.