“You Talkin’ to Me?”

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158 Many references have been made in film and television to the quote, “You talkin’ to me?”  This line was made famous by Robert De Niro portraying Travis Bickle in the 1976 movie Taxi Driver.  The quote is in the top 10 of famous movie quotes.  You may have even discovered yourself using this line – or maybe you will be in the future!

As a project manager, have any of your team members or stakeholders ever needed to ask you this same question?  Whether or not it has been the case, we should strive to avoid the need for such clarification in our project communication practices.  In preparing to sit for the PMP® Exam, or just observing best practices daily, keep in mind that communications need to be direct, honest, clear, and timely.

When I lived and worked in the state of Texas, I once had a sales manager from out-of-state (OK, a non-Texan!) that I found out did not like my wearing cowboy boots when visiting customers.  However, my manager did not respect me enough to discuss his problem with me directly.  Instead, he commented about it to another employee so that I would receive his message via the grapevine rather than directly from him.  Now, this was twenty years ago; is it any wonder that I still remember the situation so clearly?  Of course, I still have cowboy boots to this day, as well as the memory of a poor communication from my manager.

Steer clear of veiled messages and an unreliable medium of exchange.  Be clear, direct, and honest.  Don’t make any of your intended receivers have to ask,

“You talkin’ to me?”