What My Fair Lady can teach us about communication

· September 9, 2013

I have a confession to make: I’m a sucker for musicals. Especially those old ones with those jolly tunes. One of my all-time favorites is: My fair lady. Since I like these old musicals it happens from time to time that I find myself singing the tunes. Out loud. The other day it happened again, but this time it was actually appropriate. In fact; the song I was humming told me something about visualization.

Here’s the scene: Eliza Dolittle have is fed being taught how to speak properly. And leaves the professor that tries to teach her. She leaves the house only to find a young man (Freddy) that loves her madly. He tries to tell her so. In oh so many long, beautiful and complicated words. So Eliza sings the following song:

The lyrics is brutal and to the point:

Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words! I get words all day through; … If you’re in love, Show me! Tell me no dreams filled with desire. If you’re on fire, Show me! … Haven’t your lips longed for my touch? Don’t say how much, Show me! Show me!

Don’t you usually write about IT?

Well let’s get this back on track… What does this have to do with us? What did this song tell me?

That often reporting and reports isn’t enough. Even diagrams might fall short. If “we’re on fire” about something that we have done - then show it! And do show a diagram, don’t tell them “dreams filled with desire” - show something that works.

And make sure that they understand. Put some effort into explaining it on the level so that they understand it. If it’s important to you - then make sure that they actually get the message, actually understand.

Transparency is great but if you don’t care about that your message gets across it’s pretty pointless. A visual board with a lot of tasks that no-one understands (for example too technical or too brief description) will soon just be an annoyance, just as reporting was before that.

If you want others to understand and care about your work and your progress - then show them! If you want to build trust with others around you - then show them your progress (good and bad) in a way that they understand.

If you’re on fire - show me!

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