Communication Connundrum

By Pamela A. Scott

Talk about a communication conundrum. . .

Yesterday I was coaching a young woman (read “half my age”), and we were brainstorming ways to get her staff to take ownership of their work. We were exploring how to create a sense of urgency for them. (I hear this a lot from owners.)

We talked about playing some game with a timer—this is for an off-site retreat. We thought of Pictionary or maybe Charades. These didn’t excite me, but I know my kids liked Pictionary.

I thought back to games where I felt most pressured to win before time ran out. My mind went back to video games like Pac Man and Centipede.

They created that adrenalin rush that you had to move fast and smart or you would get eaten or whatever. (I was always an observer.)

She was aware of Pac Man, but had never heard of some of the others. She did not grow up in this country. Score 1 for “cultural differences.”

Then I got excited, remembering playing pre-video games, sometimes in drinking establishments. “We need a pinball machine!”

She looked at me with that “what are you talking about” look.

“Pinball, you know,” I said, reliving old memories, pantomiming pulling back the launcher and working the flippers. Still a blank look.

“Certainly you know of the rock opera ‘Tommy?’ Blind kid who’s a pinball wizard. . .”

Still a blank look. I was struggling here. Score 2 for “cultural differences.”

“Well, you do know who The Who is, don’t you?” I asked, looking for some shred of a way to relate.

“The Who. Yes, I know them.” Thank heavens!

Needless to say, my case for a pinball machine didn’t land on this young woman. They didn’t have pinball machines in her country. And she hadn’t taken a college course on great rock operas from the 1970s.

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