4 Ways Chewbacca Taught Me How to Communicate

Originally Published by The Capterra Project Management Blog

“Aarr wwgggh waah.” and “Ahh argh. Arrrghh!” are just a few of the sounds you hear come out of Chewbacca’s mouth, but is it really language? Chewie has appeared in five Star Wars films and we have seen him on screen for hours, but do you understand him? How does Han, let alone the rest of us, even know what he’s saying? Distinguishing amongst grunts and growls seems like an impossible task, but each and every one of us knows how Chewie feels in these scenes.

As a project manager communication with your team and stakeholders is crucial, and there are many ways to communicate effectively. Chewbacca is an amazing example of the power of nonverbal communication. He grunts, he shakes his head, he strokes his hair, and moans. None of that is spoken language. Yet he’s able to communicate nonetheless, so how does he do it?

Here’s what a Wookie taught me about communication:

1. Don’t be afraid to show it.

Emotion is a powerful thing. It can completely change the meaning of a word or phrase based on how you say it. It can make someone smile or cry. It can warm the heart or tear it out.

Chewbacca is a seven-foot tall, 200-year-old warrior, yet he isn’t afraid to dole out a hug from time to time.

At the beginning of Return of the Jedi, when Han is thawed and reunited with his old friend, words would simply ruin the moment, but a good “Arrrghh!” and a hug just feels right and we all know what Chewie means.

Projects, and project managers, live and die on the ability to communicate, between team members and with clients. The best amongst us know this and spend a huge portion of their time on it. Those truly great communicators aren’t afraid to use emotion at work to drive home their points, both positive and negative.

2. Make the plan clear.

In The Empire Strikes Back, Han and Chewie have some hairy situations due to the hyperdrive not working properly.

Although most of the situations you run into with your team won’t be on the verge of death at the hand of a black-helmeted Sith Lord named Darth Vader, nonetheless you would like to avoid pieces falling between the cracks. If Han and Chewie had been using a project management software, like Kanbanchi or similar, to manage the repairs on the Millennium Falcon, it would have been obvious that the Repair Hyperdrive card was still in the “Doing” column.

See below:

Make a plan and communicate it clearly to everyone on the team if you want the highest likelihood of success.

3. Practice makes perfect.

How many times does Han Solo translate what Chewie “says” for Princess Leia or Luke? In A New Hope, a lot. In Empire Strikes Back, not so much. In Return of the Jedi, hardly at all. They’re all becoming friends and getting to know one another.

Recalling this whenever you’re managing a project for a new client is crucial to really understanding what they want. How often have you had someone say one thing, but you could “sense” that they really meant something else? Don’t be afraid to ask your Han Solo for a little translation to ensure the projects run smoothly.

4. Don’t …

More?

Read the rest of our tips on The Capterra Project Management Blog!