How do you get your message across? There are many different ways – ‘sign language’ is one of them. Walking along the ‘Promenade’ at Umhlanga, KZN recently I noticed a sign which was very explicit in telling the public what we may or may not do.
If you look at the above sign, there are ten ‘don’ts’ and only two ‘do’s’. There are so many ‘don’ts’ in life, aren’t there?
I then left the ‘Promenade’ and walked down onto the beach.
In this context, I’d like to add a whole list of do’s, for example:
- Do walk on the beach.
- Do notice and reflect on the beauty of nature.
- Do marvel at the sky and look at the pictures that the clouds form.
- Do explore how connected you feel to all the elements of nature.
- Do watch the waves and the patterns forming.
- Do look down at the sand, at the unwritten signs, the pictures and patterns. Some are natural and some are man-made. There is beauty in each.
After exploring the beach, as I walked back onto the ‘Promenade,’ a few metres from the first sign was a sign (Photo 1) giving a different message (Photo 3). The intention is: ‘Dogs are allowed on the beach as long as they are on a leash and you may fish in the sea’. Those were two nice options! However, the arrow seemed to indicate that we had to go in a certain direction to do that. Well, I’m sure you can’t fish on the ‘Promenade’ and you can’t walk your dogs on a leash in the sea! So, sometimes we do have to be flexible and think creatively to understand the implications of ambiguous signs. But in this current uncertain and volatile era we need to cope with ambiguity.
Using the three photos as a starting point, my questions and suggestions for you are:
- How do you personally make sure that you are getting your message across effectively in various aspects of your life?
- In Photo 1, explore the possibilities of what each picture might be saying. What do the ‘authorities’ really mean by each? Have fun considering ambiguity. And what would happen if people interpreted each of the twelve ‘do’s or ‘don’ts’ as intended? And what could other consequences of possible actions be?
- If you had twelve (and only twelve!) ‘Lessons in Life’ for your children or grandchildren, what would they be? Create a linear list using words. Then try converting those lessons to a sign similar to that in Photo 1. Have fun! Be creative and explore other possibilities. For example, extend the activity by conveying that same message as an abstract collage.
- Now let’s look at how you could get that same message, the ‘Twelve Lessons in Life’, across using different senses? For example, using music and lyrics could be fun! Carefully choose twelve different songs, each as a metaphor for one of your ‘lessons’ and combine them in a meaningful way.
- For Photo 2, what other points would you add to my list of ‘do’s’ for when you are on the beach?
- Have a look at Photo 3. In which other ways could you interpret that sign? Be creative. Look beyond ‘the obvious’. (These are great conversation topics for adults or children, aren’t they?)
On a daily basis we are exposed to a myriad of signs, each giving a different message. We consciously choose to follow some but masses go unnoticed.
In whatever you do, consider if you are getting your message across effectively. Make sure you know exactly what you are trying to say. Explore different ways and convey your message in the most effective manner. Where possible, check to make sure it has been understood by your target audience in the way in which you intended it.
For more information on Communication Skills training, Executive Coaching or Keynote speaking, please contact Brenda Eckstein on +27 82 4993311 or firstname.lastname@example.org