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There's More to "Lights, Camera, Action"

Yesterday I read something I hadn’t heard before about a very well-known phrase.

I heard that there are standard responses “Lights, Camera, Action.” That’s right. Each one of the words is actually an instruction that requires a specific response.

I am pretty sure that most people know that when the director calls “Action”, the actors start their scene. But do you know what the response for “Lights” is? How about for “Camera”?

Lights, Camera, Action!

It got me thinking about how often people go through the motions of communication. Managers ask how things are going without really waiting for the response. Or teams talk about problems in a morning meeting without really hearing the answer their coworkers give. Or an andon light burns brightly without a response.

Poor communication is worse than no communication. And one of the root causes of poor communication comes from the tendency of people to be better at talking than at listening. Try a little experiment. When you ask a question, see whether your mind homes in on what you are hearing. Or, see if it drifts off to what you are thinking about, or about what you want to say when it is your turn to talk again.

I suspect a big part of this disconnected communication style comes from the fast pace of business, and of life in general. We are always in a hurry, so we start trying to form up our next response as early as possible. Plus, we don’t like quiet time during our conversations. We tend to find it uncomfortable.

We also don’t like being idle. If we waited to form our response until after we heard everything a person had to say, that would be inefficient, wouldn’t it? Never mind the cost of misinterpretations, of the fact that we often end up repeating ourselves.

So if you are going to call out “Lights” wait for the response, “Lights ready,” indicating that the lighting is set correctly. If you call out “Camera”, wait to hear “Speed.” It’s a throwback to the days when cameras had to get ‘up to speed’ to film correctly. Now, it just means the cameras are rolling.

And if you are going to say something to a coworker. Try to focus on the response they are giving, not the one that you are about to give to what you think they are going to say.

 

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