Communication never gets easier with a rollicking group of family and friends playing Password. We pulled out our old, old game during a recent week at a lakeside cabin in Maine. This is our favorite game to play during long summer evenings especially if we have several generations playing at the same time. First, this game is so old that usually no one has ever heard of it. Second, it is so simple that all of us can get it – or so we think. It’s kind of like Charades or Pictionary without any drawing or acting.
Divide up into teams (mix the generations to make it funnier) and then one person from each team lines up in front of the fireplace. They are secretly given the same word from the moderator “hubby Wally”. Taking turns they are allowed to give their team members one word with the hope that their team will spontaneously guess the secret word. The trick is to communicate with your team mates using skillful word associations and context.
Understanding Each Other’s Meaning
You won’t think it would be so difficult but understanding what someone else is saying depends on not only on the actual words being said but more importantly with the context and association the words bring to mind. Interesting, it’s very frequently why we have disconnects in communication. Someone says “That’s not what I said” and the other person says “Oh, but that’s what I thought you meant”. Each thinks they heard it right.
As I watch our team members laugh as they struggle to guess the words I’m struck with how quickly word associations happen. Our brains connect words with meaning almost instantaneously. And we’re so tempted to shout out that first association as our buddy Cedric repeatedly did. Sometimes those associations are right on and sometimes they are way off the mark.
As Leaders – Are We Talking About the Same Thing?
If you are in any kind of leadership position, realizing the power of word association is very helpful. You may think you’re being very clear in your communication only to be surprised that your direct reports or a colleague assumed something quite different. In most cases, it’s perfectly understandable because we hear what makes sense to us – in our own context. So a wise leader always double checks to make sure that everyone heard the same thing. And if you have any doubts about how complex communication is – especially between generations – just bring out that game of Password!