Written by Katy Wagnon
A simple game of telephone can lead to a big lesson in communication. A few us from the marketing team got together for lunch and a fun game of telephone-with-a-twist. Instead of the traditional game of telephone where you whisper something to the person next to you and so on until the last person tries to relay the message the first person spoke. Telephone-with-a-twist requires the first person to write a message on a piece of paper and then hand it to the person beside them. The next person has to draw what the first person wrote. The last person writes down what they believe the message to be. Here is our example:
You are a leader. Others will soon need your inspiration. (The original message)
This was the first interpreted drawing of the original message.
The last person believed the original message was: Mommy loves to see her curly-haired, non-sensical baby walking.
The message the last person received was completely different than the message the first person delivered.
We are all striving to communicate our messages more effectively both internally and externally. In order to do this we must better understand the person/people receiving the message. This simple exercise pointed out the different ways in which different personalities receive messages. While one person on our team was quick to grab the pen and start drawing their interpretation of the message another team member thought long and hard about the message before touching pen to paper. A few people wanted to know what category the message was from. Was it a movie title? A song title? A familiar phrase? The message was brand new and unfamiliar to the team–this made the exercise more challenging and a little uncomfortable for some.
We played a second game of telephone-with-a-twist only this time the first person chose “Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf” as the original message. Every person on the team drew or wrote some version of the phrase into their interpretation. What we learned is that it’s much easier to communicate a familiar message and much harder for us to recieve a new message. Everyone was familiar with “Little Red Riding Hood” it was easy for each person to recieve the intended message because of the familiarity. Next time you are communicating a new message to customers, internal partners or team-members keep in mind what the Diffusion Theory teaches us. We are all creatures of habit. Human beings do not like change. Getting anything new–an idea, a widget, an innovation, a political movement etc,–adopted can take years. It can take years to get people to readily accept an idea, use a new product, believe in a movement or vote for a candidate.
Katy Wagnon is the Social Media and Events Coordinator at Washington Trust Bank.
Washington Trust Bank