I recently wrote a news article that cast the lowly stick figure as a superhero — or, more specifically, a hastily summoned helper that could potentially save your brilliant idea when your boss, spouse or some other nitwit is trying to squash it.
Based on the book “Blah Blah Blah: What to Do When Words Won’t Work,” my article posited that stick figures and rudimentary sketches can make quicker work of decision-making and make people more receptive to your ideas. Why? “We are so overwhelmed with information that we talk louder and faster to push our ideas. Visuals cut through the chatter,” said author Dan Roam.
Those who know me know I have the Perfect Relationship. It’s sickening. The sweet nothings constantly texted back and forth, the public displays of affection (sorry to the folks in Austin who witnessed our park bench grappling). Recently, though, Jeff and I were at odds with each other over an issue that came to a head on Thanksgiving (and has since been resolved). Let’s just say it had to do with resources and how — or if — we were going to share them.
It was an emotional discussion. Thank goodness there is no idea or emotion “that is so complex that it can’t be represented by a simple series of pictures,” according to Roam, “and the moment you figure out the visual essence of an idea is the moment you can really start talking about the idea.”
Frustrated, I grabbed a pen. As Jeff looked on, I drew a box representing the resources (let’s pretend it’s pirate’s booty, or Indiana Jones’ priceless collection of mythical artifacts) and then drew a circle and a speck representing I know not what. But it was something important. I can tell by the lines radiating out of the speck.
I had Jeff’s attention if not his comprehension. When I failed to get my point across, I pressed down harder on the pen. Lines became slash marks. “Don’t you see?” I demanded, stabbing the piece of paper.
Roam said pictures can “clarify and crystallize” an idea. Not in this case. If Jeff were a different person, he’d point to my drawing as evidence I am crazy and incapable of handling any resources whatsoever.
Instead, he points to it as evidence I shouldn’t drink and draw, let alone drink and debate.
Judge for yourself.