Communicating Clearly (or things that get lost in translation)

frits with headsetIt’s easy in our communications to make the assumption that other people have the full body of knowledge that we do. That they process information the same, use the same definitions of words that we do and pronounce words the same as we do.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember this story from my brother Frits. He always had great insights and was able to see the humor in life’s challenges. Frits had muscular dystrophy, so was confined to a wheelchair for much of his life. He passed away in 2003.

Here’s a short story we loved to share (in Frits’ words):

A couple years ago (in 2001), I had a Hispanic nurse with a fairly heavy accent. It was morning, and as is often the case, I needed to wipe my eyes. So I asked Mildred (not her real name), “Will you please wipe my eyes?”

So, she goes to the closet to get some tissue but she also comes back with a couple of gloves. I thought nothing of it because I figured some people would rather use a glove. But, then, she goes to start turning me over.

Confused, I said again, and “I need to wipe my eyes,” trying to emphasize my words very clearly so she could understand me better. Again, she starts to turn me over again.

I say, no, I need to wipe my eyes. Then, all of a sudden she starts to laugh. She finally understood me. Amongst her laughing, she said to me that she thought I had said, “I need to wipe my a**.” Very funny.

So much can be lost in translation. And when you start to think about communicating financial information the challenges increase. So how can you be creative about sharing financial information (and please notice that I didn’t say to get creative with your financial report, simply to find creative ways to share that information)?

Using charts and graphs are a good way to make your financial summary a little more reader friendly. This Google search I just did brings up several examples of different charts and graphs.

Infographics can be a fun way to report information as well. John Haydon shares some ideas on getting started with infographics here.

That wraps up my series of posts on case statements. If you’re interested in looking at some case statement samples I have links to a few posted on my diigo page.

What ways do you have to simplify complex financial data? Please share your thoughts below.

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