How to communicate with seven words

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Michael Jackson graffiti

I borrowed the documentary This Is It from my local video shop recently.

It follows Michael Jackson as he rehearses for his comeback performances at London’s Wembley Stadium.

As we all know, he never made it to Wembley, or anywhere else for that matter.

The movie, released shortly after his death, offers an insight into Jackson’s working life as well as that of his dancers, musicians, sound technicians and camera crew.

Two things stood out as I watched.

First, Michael Jackson had no discernable personality. Second, he communicated exclusively in two or three word sentences.

These sentences are as follows:

  • God bless;
  • I love you; and
  • Bless you.

Whenever Mr Jackson used these sentences they were very effective. People listened to him intently.

So I decided that if proffering two or three words in conversation worked for him then maybe it would work for me.

I tested my Jackson Discourse theory on some colleagues.

Unfortunately, their responses were unenthusiastic.

I then realised three more things:

  • Australians do not appreciate references to supernatural entities as a response to polite enquiries about your day;
  •  It is difficult to limit conversation to “God bless,” “Bless you,” and “I love you,” without causing offence; and
  • I am not Michael Jackson and what worked for him does not work for me.


Sue Bell

Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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