Pomegranite communication exercise

A fit of artistic rage – and other lessons in communication

By Sarah

Photo by John Cameron

In my most recent skills share, I did something a little different. I got the idea from the lovely person who will be doing my hair and make-up for my wedding. At the start of the trial we did, she began by managing my expectations, gently stating that the person in the reference I’d sent her had very long, thick hair, while I… do not. I told her I was under no illusions, we had a laugh, and throughout the process I was generally very impressed by her communication.

Classic me – I go to a professional make-up artist for the first time in my life and the thing I’m most excited about is her communication.

She told me that when she hires new artists, she always starts with this important exercise:

Two people sit back to back. One person is given a photograph. The other person is given paper and a pen. The person with the photo has to describe it, while the person with the paper must draw it.

I thought it was such a simple but effective exercise, and so transferable to any industry. So I decided to try it with my team – with slight tweaks given that we were a team of eight and it all had to happen over Zoom.

For round one, I asked for a volunteer.

There were none.

So I chose someone at random (Jesse – lucky, lucky) and sent her this photo:

Pomegranite communication exercise

Photo by jcob nasyr

The rules:
You need to describe the photo in detail but you cannot use your hands.
The drawers are allowed to ask as many questions as they like for clarification.

I made it clear that this wasn’t a test of artistic ability, but more of accurate communication.

Here are three anonymous results. One is mildly crumpled due to a “fit of artistic rage” – her words. Because Pomegranites tackle things with passion. And also there’s a chance that I only requested the drawings a bit late in the game.

After the learnings garnered from round one, I chose the next describer via the extremely scientific method of closing my eyes and jabbing my finger at the Zoom grid. And that’s how Callie’s very first week at Pomegranite culminated in such a centre-stage experience.

I particularly enjoyed the drama with which she only revealed, a full 5 minutes into the description of this picture, that there were cats in it.

Pomegranite communication exercise

Photo by Ignacio Amenábar

Here is a selection of the resultant drawings:

Look, I don’t think everyone loved this exercise. But one Pomemgranite did say it was the highlight of her week. And only one drawing (that I know of) ended up in the bin. So I’m calling that a success.

I feel like we’re all pretty good communicators at Pomegranite. It’s certainly a skill that we value. So it was fun to test it out in this way.

When I sent a reminder about sharing the drawings (if they wanted to) on the skills share slack channel, this is what followed:

Pom 1: Here’s my second one:

Pomegranite communication exercise

Pom 2: Love the realism.

Pom 1: Oh whoops, it’s hard to tell because my drawing was so realistic.