"And don't call me Shirley"

Posted March 1, 2019

AIRPLANE: ”Surely you can't be serious." "I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."


Communication is a funny thing. What seems so simple coming out of our mouths can be heard in a completely different way by the receiver of the message. I suppose that this blog isn’t just on the movie Airplane, it’s probably more of a communication spin on the genius of Lesley Neilson.  Now his sense of humour may not be everyone's cup of tea, but he had an incredible way of turning a simple sentence and breaking it down to make it mean something entirely different; hence, me breaking that down to a blog on leadership communication.  Surely, you can see the connection. Ok, this one might be a bit of a stretch but I like this movie, and it’s my blog. So I’ll do what I want.

Another example from the movie is
Rumack: You’d better tell the Captain we’ve got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be taken to a hospital.
Elaine Dickinson: A hospital? What is it?
Rumack: It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now.

Again, a simple play on words to add a hilarious spin on an everyday sentence.

So how does this apply to leadership? It’s all about communication and perception. Tone, body language, clarity, communication styles, conciseness… these are just a few of the pieces that are important to communication, and really, that is just for sending the message.  Someone still has to receive it and add their own spin on what is being said based on their communication style, how they read your body language and tone, how clear the message is and what their preconception of the conversation was in the first place.  THEN add in the fact that we use technology for many of our conversations, so people are able to add their own tone and context to the message. You can see how communication can go sideways.  

So here’s where the leadership part comes in. It is up to you to figure out how to best communicate with the members of your team.  Do some people need bullet points and more detail, do others just need an idea, and they run with it, do you need to be more firm with some and softer with others?  Do they respond better to THINK language or FEEL language?  As a leader, it is up to you to try to communicate as clearly as possible, and that means answering all the questions above.  

Don’t ever expect people to adjust their communication style to yours as a leader. It is up to you to ensure you are communicating with them on their terms to be the best leader you can be for your team.
 


Back to News