Sunday, December 30, 2012

Show, don't tell

I received a brochure from an English enrichment class near my home. I was super impressed because of the great advice it gives to students - Show, don't tell. Basically that advice - for good writing to students - means that instead of saying that John is smart, you say everything that describes why he is smart. In other words, you show, you don't tell. I'll probably write something that goes like this: John can solve problems at a snap of a finger; problems that normally take others a good while to figure out.

I was pretty impressed! I thought in life, we should do all that. You know the thing about communications in Singapore, especially Singlish, is that we tend to jump to the point very fast and efficient. We Singaporeans are man (or woman) of few words, and some say fewer emotions.

Examples? Here we go:

1. What you want? (imagine the position of your hand with palms facing down, then you flip it up at the same time you raise your chin)

2. Makan? (coupled with a gesture of the index and middle fingers pointing out like a chopsticks, scooping imaginary rice into your mouth)

3. Makaned. (with hands rubbing your belly)

I think we should be less efficient. Talk more, describe more, show more instead of just telling. Try telling your boss everything except saying that you need a raise in salary. Try telling your wife everything except saying that you love her. Try writing in your resume everything except that you are hardworking, creative, smart and have good management skills. For the stock gurus, try showing more results instead of telling, haha!

It might very well change your life :)


AK71 said...

Super duper cheeeeeem.... I blur. kekekekeke... ;)

la papillion said...

Haha AK, nothing cheam about this post :) Just treat it literally :)

Derek said...

Sometimes more is less and less is more.

There is no one size fits all, especially when dealing with people. At the end of the day, its all about getting your message across correctly.

A Happy New Year!

la papillion said...

Hi Derek,

I came from engineering, a no nonsense background. There is a maximum number of words/pages to write for my thesis. Anything more than that, they won't even look at it.

Those from the arts stream, however, had it the opposite way. Their thesis has a minimum word/page limit. I always find it fascinating to know this.

I'm trying to unlearn all that I'm trained for.

I think it's not just about getting your message across. It's about getting your message across in the form and format that the other party prefers :)

Happy new year!

Singapore Man of Leisure said...

The bard sits at the tavern nursing his drink all night.

Hoping to catch a glimpse of the Tavern Master.

Many a nights he goes home slightly disappointed...

But not today!

Today, the Tavern Master returns!

Words just as sharp as before.

Cutting through the fog of smoke and mirrors; from lesser conjurers and snake oil salesmen.


Singapore Man of Leisure said...


Women and men communicate differently too as you may have discovered ;)

Silly men with quick solutions to everything!?

When women complain to you, all they really want is your shoulder and a hug. And for you to tell them they are right. LOL!

la papillion said...


Haha, long time no see :)

Ya, men always want to solve problems. Women? They just want to share their problems, not necessarily to solve them, haha :)

AK71 said...


la papillion said...

Hi AK,

Thanks for the good wishes :) Heehee, if I'm picky, I'll say that you're a little late, haha :P

AK71 said...




Belated happy bday! Wishing you more success this 2013! Stay healthy! Stay wealthy!