Bonsai Communication

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Anthony Pica
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Bonsai Communication

Bonsai Communication

It can be tempting to overexplain.

Imagine you want your team to use a new project management tool. You want to convince them so you write down a list of reasons. To be thorough, you outline the details. You even think ahead about the questions they might ask, proactively addressing them in your communication.

You were diligent in your research and planning, and to you it's clear that a different project management tool is the right decision, but how does your audience react to the information you provided about the change?

I've overcommunicated plenty of times. The intent is to be helpful, but I've found that imposing information on people can make them want to challenge it.

People get overwhelmed by the details.

They tune out.

The core message gets lost.

They forget or reject the premise.

Knowing your audience is crucial. Sometimes it's appropriate to provide the details, but more often than not, I've found that less is more effective.

The Bonsai Principle

Bonsai is the Japanese art of cultivating miniature trees in small containers. There is beauty in the specialized care needed to make them resemble full-sized trees. To control their growth and appearance, they are pruned and trimmed. Simple yet elegant.

Communication is an art.

Like a bonsai tree, we can prune and trim our statements to shape our message. Cut what's unnecessary. Decrease the tangential to increase the impact.

Influential communicators are good at balancing how much information is shared and when to withhold the details. They pique curiosity and invite people to want to understand more.

After all, people are more likely to be convinced when they've reached a conclusion on their own.

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