- Sit comfortably in front of your PC/laptop/iPad or whatever equipment you’re using to access the internet
- Make sure you’re alone and you will not be interrupted for the next 2:15 at the very least
- Play this clip and
- Pay a close attention to everything happening in the video.
Step 1: Accept the fact
On the video, the gentleman reporting a burglary (played by Terry Jones) is a bit angry at first, kind of offended. But there’s a point where he realizes there’s a communication problem. Now the policeman (played by John Cleese) doesn’t give him any hints to what the problem is until the gentleman starts to despair. They both seem to be unaware that there is a problem.
So the first step to solve communication problems is to believe that there really is one. If you’re just told there’s a problem you probably won’t accept it, you have to believe it. Back to the sketch, if he didn't believe it he would probably find some other root cause for the problem and would never face it.
Step 2: Find a solution
Step 3: Two way feedback
Give and ask for feedback. This was the turning point on this sketch. Time after time we forget this. Remember the last time someone sent you an email asking you to do something and you replied saying “So what you want me to do is this and that?” Right, if you’re like me that was a long while ago… Give feedback even if no one asked for it. Things can only get better if you do.
Back to the sketch that's how they worked it out: a higher register now, and the gentleman would try a higher register.
Step 4: Problems can get worse
And so the problem was solved using the first 3 steps alone. So why the 4th? If you remember what happens when the other policeman (played by Graham Chapman) enters to replace the first one - the problems start all over again. And again, as soon as they get the communication flowing things get worse again when the inspector (played by Eric Idle) enters the scene. But in the end you have communication flowing – the Monty Python way.
So don’t forget to keep the communication flowing and watch for more problems…
Impacts on Project Management
Monty Python so why won’t it work for you?
Step 1 is the real issue here, I think. Sometimes you have to be brainwashed first if you want to accept the fact that you have a problem. This is, I believe, because it messes with people’s habits. And although it’s not the same kind of habit, it has some similarities to drugs and alcohol dependency and why it’s so hard for someone to break free.
Others can spot our communication problems a mile away but it’s really hard for us to do it for ourselves. Have you ever taught a class? Were you ever recorded on video doing that? If you have you know what I mean, it’s way too weird to see yourself doing and saying things that you could swear never happened. Maybe you should trust more what others hint you. Maybe when someone tells you something like “Why were you picking on Mr. X?” what they are trying to tell you is “You were way out of line with Mr. X, if you have punched him in the nose it wouldn’t have made any difference”
Just keep in mind that you should look out for communication problems and address them at once. It won’t be easy but if you do it…
…then you could be a better project manager.
Images from http://juniorlawyersunion.blogspot.com, http://www.mathwarehouse.com/, http://www.vibrant.com/, http://jmorganmarketing.com, http://msu.edu
Posted by Luis Seabra Coelho