• BDW

Broken Telephone

I was approached by someone the other day that wanted to address a concern that I had. The interesting thing was that I was quite puzzled to hear about this concern that I had. I wasn't aware that I had this concern.


I don't know if you ever played the game, we used to play it at school when I was younger, and I was always fascinated by the game. I really to this day can not wrap my mind around how a game so simple in reality can become so confusing and complicated. The "Broken Telephone" game, and for those who have never played the game, is a game where you sit in a circle. The first player will whisper a phrase or statement into the next players ear who will in turn say that same phrase or statement to the next player (For the record, this game is no fun with less than 3 players!) The message is passed from one player to the next until it gets to the last player in the chain. Once the last player received the phrase or statement, they would loudly and clearly state the phrase or statement for all the players to hear.

This is where it gets incredibly confusing for me. If each player communicates the message to the next the message should be received by the last player. However, more than 80% of the time, the phrase or statement bellowed out loud for all to hear is absolutely not even discernible from the initial phrase or statement whispered from the first player. It all boils down to communication and I feel that "we all could use a little help from a friend" here!

In order for communication to be successful, the intended message and purpose behind the message needs to be received by the recipient. This is confirmed by the actions undertaken by the recipient, matching those intended by the person initiating the message!

I'm certainly not preaching here, I often find myself after a conversation questioning the tone used during the communication and the influence that had on the message communicated. I did though think that we could discuss communication and a few important points that we should all be considering constantly so that we improve our communication skills.

Without communication, we may as well be cavemen!

  • Watch your tone I'm left ear dominant, and so I hear tone sometimes over the actual words spoken. We always hear about how body language says more than your words, but the tone in which you speak communicates more than you realize. The same statement said with a caring tone behind it will be heard and therefore received very differently from one when you having a bad day!

  • Share you message with a purpose I'm a very focused purposeful guy. I sometimes forget the pleasantry's when sitting in a meeting or sharing a sales pitch. I get straight to the point when I talk and constantly try remind myself to slow down and be in the moment with the person I'm speaking to. In the same way that a letter should have an introduction, body (Purpose) and conclusion, so should your conversation and message.

  • Ask questions To ensure that the message was received as intended, the best thing to do is ask the questions of the recipient. What did they hear? What are their actions from the message going to be? Don't be afraid to ask those around you, that you communicate with, how your message is presented and received!

Remember that before you get frustrated with others when performance is does not as expected, did the message get received as intended. If not, you didn't communicate!

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