Last week, I had the good fortune to attend a mini-seminar on workplace personalities. The odd thing was that it took place on a Friday evening in the form of a dinner theater performance. Minna Kivelä and Annu Valonen gave us a one-hour presentation on the types of colleagues we all have. They used humor to describe everyday office situations.
I’m not confident enough in my Finnish to repeat any of the details and lessons learned, but I can say that these two ladies did what any presenter would want out of a seminar: We all went away thinking about the people they described. And I suspect most of us did some thinking about how to stop being that horrible person they described.
There was one bit that was particularly interesting to me. They gave a picture of different styles of giving feedback. Each style had a clever- and memorable- name and they demonstrated how that style comes through in real life.
What struck me was how the same message is delivered in thousands of seminars around the world every day:
Type A: Blah, blah, blah, blah, etc., etc.
Type B:Blah, blah, blah, etc., etc.
The typical presentation is fine (but boring) for people who already know the stuff, but the skeptics in the audience will remain skeptics. And the presentation will take 2 hours to give the information that these ladies gave us in about 15 minutes.
The other striking thing about this performance is somewhat cultural. All the years I’ve been working with Finns, I hear one comment over and over again: Finns don’t like entertainment; we like information that we can act on.
Well, there was a roomful of Finns who were highly entertained Friday night, but went home thinking about very serious topics.
The point here is that messages can be delivered in many different ways and that we need to exploit every possibility. If we automatically take humor out of our toolbox, we may very well miss an audience.
Thank you again, Minna and Annu. I highly recommend Rikas, rakas, työ to anyone looking for a good night out.