A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

by | Nov 22, 2013

Communication can be a tricky thing sometimes, can’t it?

We go through each and every day speaking and being spoken to – hearing and being heard.  But, just because someone speaks doesn’t necessarily mean that the intended party heard, much less comprehended, all that was said.  Lost meanings, failure to act due to a perceived (or real) lack of information, and misunderstandings happen all the time simply because the lines of communication are sketchy, at best.  Here are a few real life examples from my life that have occurred over the course of the last few weeks:

1. A few days ago I stopped at Burger King to grab a bite to eat. Upon ordering, I clearly stated that I DID NOT WANT pickles on my hamburger. However, after biting into my Jr. Whopper with cheese, I discovered two things: A) Burger King does NOT have my back when it comes to my pickle aversion; and B) “…have it your way, have it your way…” is really just a hopeful suggestion as opposed to a hard and fast rule.

2. Last night, while sitting at the kitchen table, I informed my 11 year old son that, following dinner, he would not get to do ANYTHING else until his room had been picked up.  I chose to tell him at a point in the meal where he WASN’T ravenously shoveling food off his plate and at a time where he WAS looking at me. After being informed of his duties, he solemnly nodded his head and promised that he would take care of it.  45 minutes AFTER he went to his room to {supposedly} clean, I poked my head in to see if he needed any help – only to find him sitting on his bed, reading. When asked (I would like to say that my inquiry was a calm one but, since I can’t remember much of the conversation I’m guessing that that wasn’t the case) why he hadn’t done what I’d asked, his response was, “OH…I didn’t know you wanted me to do that tonight!”

3. Two weeks ago, I went to a salon to get a manicure and, as is custom, I was asked how I wanted my nails filed. For those of you not familiar with the wonderful world of all things nail related, the answer they are {typically} looking for is either: A) Square; B) Round; or, C) Square with rounded edges. However, this particular nail technician only provided me with options A and B – C was never presented. Now me, being the {apparently foolish} nail newbie that I am, decided to complicate matters by introducing option C into the equation, figuring {erroneously} that she would know what I mean…which is totally NOT what happened. My fatal {almost literally} mistake was that, after countless attempts at trying to explain what I meant, I finally – and in a somewhat exasperated state – said, “you know, square, but with rounded edges…sort of half square, half round”.

Can you guess what the end result was in scenario #3 (we’re not going to delve into the first scenario because, well, it’s fast food – there’s not really a whole lot more that can be said. And, scenario #2? Equally un-noteworthy – I was dealing with an 11 year old boy for crying out loud; honestly, it’s a wonder he heard anything I said at all!).  I walked out of that place with 10 finger nails that were ALL filed in the following manner – the pinkie side was extremely rounded while the thumb side was, you guessed it!, sharp enough to cut glass. Seriously, afterwards I decided to forego all other activities and went straight home to re-file my nails into a more acceptable (ie, uniform and NOT deadly) shape. And, yes, this is probably only something a girl who’s in to nail stuff would do – back off!

I tell you all of this to bring your attention to one startling reality – just because what I’m saying (at any given point in time) makes sense to me, often times the message manages to get lost in translation somewhere in the space between my mouth and the ear(s) of the listener.

I’m betting that this has happened to you a time or two as well.

I think what always winds up taking us by surprise in situations such as these is that we expect – especially when we’re talking to someone who’s job is centered around whatever we happen to be dealing with at the moment – that they should just get it. But, let’s face it – different things mean…well…different things to different people.

Which is why sometimes words just aren’t enough.

Seriously.  My most recent nail endeavor was a completely different experience because I brought a {albeit hand drawn} picture of what I wanted my “end result” nail shape to look like. Did the technician look at me like I was a bit off my rocker? Yep. Did I care? Not one single bit. However, I did walk out of the salon with exactly what I wanted.

Now, here’s the real question: why people are so hesitant to do this – that being bringing their own “rough drafts” along with them – when it comes to more pressing matters?  Think about it – if we’re willing to do things like bring in hand drawn pictures of finger nails or pour over magazines in search of the perfect photo of a celebrity hair cut to present to our stylist, why the heck are we so reluctant to do the same when it comes to all things related to business?  Is it because people are afraid that if they bring a hand drawn sketch into a meeting with their advertising agency that everyone will look at them like they have two heads? Or maybe it’s because people think that bringing in color samples or clippings from a magazine might make them seem like they don’t know what it is that they’re doing.

Remember, your business is a living, breathing extension of you. It’s what you pour your heart and soul into on a daily basis. Don’t you think that your branding, logo, website, etc should at least rank somewhere near that of your hair or nails when it comes to “getting it just right”?

We design for our clients. We create for our clients. We love it – it’s where our passion lies and, let me tell you, we can design and create with the best of ‘em – but, what we can’t do is read minds. Your version of “grunge” may be totally different than the vision floating in our heads; and, your version of “blue” may be completely opposite of what we’re dreaming up – but, we’ll never know any of that (or at least not until farther down the road) if it’s not communicated in a way that leaves both parties on the same page right from the get go.

We don’t steamroll clients into simply taking what they’re given – that’s not our job. Our job is to help define your vision and make it a reality! So, if that means that you need to draw us a picture to assist us in seeing what it is that you’re seeing, well…we say go for it!

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