While many might say a great book has a lot to teach us about humanity and the way the world works, great TV also holds many helpful lessons. Watching these narratives unfold and thinking about the human stories they tell, we glean some essential secrets to communicating effectively. Here are 3 shows that give us timeless communication advice.
The Twilight Zone
Context is Key
When Rod Serling graced the screen at the introduction of each of the original 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone, watchers were granted an external context for the upcoming events. This allowed us to grasp who the main characters were, what their circumstances were, and to then appropriately follow the weird and wild events of the show to their conclusion. Without his entry piece into each unrelated episode, viewers would lack the context to form emotional connections with the cast and connect information to form meaningful conclusions.
Like The Twilight Zone, when we communicate with others, we should strive to provide as much context as possible to why we are writing or speaking, and what we are writing or speaking about. A communication partner who is confused will often miss nuances or details of the conversation, leading to a poor outcome. Be the Rod Serling of your next email - add in all the context the recipient could possibly need to understand your message perfectly.
Seek to Understand Before Seeking to Fight
Confrontation is inevitable in work. There are always those with whom we will disagree and we will need to assert ourselves and our reasoning to get the results we want. Star Trek asserts that conflict like this need not be violent, malicious, or even overly unpleasant - if we take the opportunity to understand the opposition fully and seek compromise, first.
When Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko, or Janeway were confronted with the unknown, the dangerous, or potentially damaging, they sought to fully understand the unfamiliar before choosing a course of action. In this way, we too can decide to reach out and understand the opposing side of a conflict before communicating our own stance. The next time a phone call is going poorly or tempers are rising at work, boldly seek out new ideas and new points of view to form an olive branch of understanding.
Sincerity Goes a Long Way
Twin Peaks captured the hearts and minds of millions of viewers as it played out from '90 - '91. Beyond the tantalizing mystery of who killed Laura Palmer, the FBI investigator Special Agent Dale Cooper charmed TV audiences with his up-front and unyielding optimism. His investigation would not have progressed without his sincere dedication not only to his job, but to understanding and respecting the residents of Twin Peaks.
When messaging a client or connection, always remain sincere in your intentions, and assume that the person on the other side of the screen is sincere too. Never attribute to malice what is likely just a misunderstanding or mistake, and approach communication with the intent to help and an open mind ready to learn. Doing this will allow a better human connection between you and the person you are contacting and likely lead to more positive and expedient outcomes.
These are just a few of the lessons popular TV shows have to teach us about interpersonal communication. If you investigate the shows you watch, maybe you will find even more tools for helping your advisory practice.Subscribe to the Dunham Blog