Archives for posts with tag: Communication

Sometimes, when we’re having a bad day, at work or outside of work, we can’t help but see the bad in things. We get into a funk and it all gets a little bit emotional.

I hate it when I hate stuff. I know that nothing is perfect, but I know that it affects my mental health the longer I get stuck in a rut of negativity, seeing the bad in things that on the whole are good.

If we’re not careful, this negativity can radiate out and affect those around us. We don’t want to do that to them, it’s not fair. Also, we don’t want to be labelled by them the Good Vibe Vortex, and avoided.

I have a simple trick to flip myself out of this mindset. It comes down to this, as do many things for me: negativity is so damned unproductive. Want to get something done, or get better at something? Amp up the positivity and focus on something good.

The English language is, according to our good friends at wikipedia, one of the three official, ‘procedural’ languages of the European Union, used in the conduct of daily business and in written and spoken proclamations. It also seems to be the most commonly used as well.

The UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973, and so did the Republic of Ireland. The UK also agreed by referendum to stay in the EEC in 1975. Then, in 1993, the EU was formed.

Some 65 million speakers of English as a first language are about to leave the body whose main language is English. That leaves the Republic of Ireland, with a population of somewhere between 4 and 5 million, depending on whether it’s in an economic upswing or downturn, as the sole native-English-speaking country representative of a group comprising a third of billion people.

To further muddy the waters, the official language of The Republic is Irish.

Am I the only person for whom this linguistic arrangement in the EU seems touch ironic?

Beware the time-waster. The person that wastes your time, not theirs. They are the scourge of modern society.

We all know them. We see them at work or at play, they are everywhere. The most heinous individual – barring the bully or the abuser of any kind – is the time-waster. They suck the life-force out of you. They rob you of the most most precious resource you have. They don’t value your time.

The time-waster is the person who can’t see or or doesn’t care that they’re clearly taking up too much of your time. They love to talk, they love to unload. They can’t make their point quickly, succinctly, pointedly. They hog the oxygen at meetings, holding forth yet coming up with nothing of consequence or action. They are often shirkers, stallers, avoiders, prevaricators.

You see, you do know them.

Don’t suffer fools gladly. Be direct. Cut them off. Move on.

And what if they do that to you? Well, examine thyself. Either you’re a time-waster and you need to improve your interactions, or you’re not, in which case you need to find another way.

Do you want to sell something to someone?

Do you want to market a product or service?

Do you need to convey a complex idea or concept?

Are you trying to get your audience to remember something?

Do you want your audience to be able to absorb, internalise and re-use the information you’re giving them?

Do you want someone to learn something?

Then tell a story!

Stories connect. They resonate with people. They’re memorable. They attach all the links in the right order into a coherent chain.

The story is the basic building block of the sales person and the marketer. Even if you don’t need a full story to get over your message, then a metaphor makes it memorable. So does an image, or a picture.

In this hectically fast world we occupy, with woefully short attention and retention spans, people are still engaged for hours and hours reading a good book, far longer than watching a movie or TV program.

So tell a story. It works.

I’ve always prided myself on being honest and saying what’s on my mind. Not necessarily framed in a hurtful or undiplomatic manner, but one that leaves no room for misunderstanding. After all, people, especially customers, need to know what you’re thinking. They also need to be advised what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.

It turns out, of course, that the Brits have long been guilty of not exactly saying what they mean, as the table here will testify. I’m indebted to James Trezona of Rooster Punk for drawing my attention to this table, though the version I’ve shown is borrowed from here. In this sense it would seem that the Brits are similar to other peoples, like the Japanese for example, in eschewing direct feedback.

Anglo-EU Translation Guide

Anglo-EU Translation Guide


I do think, though, that this British habit of hiding behind the nuances of the mother tongue is gradually dying out. You could put this down to a bunch of mega trends I guess: globalisation, American cultural influences, the erosion of the British class system, our increasing inclination not to waste precious free time, to name but a few.

If it’s not dying out, then it’s certainly lessening from a bracing wind to a gentle breeze.

Or maybe something else is at work here? Maybe we’re not very good at delivering bad news. Maybe we’re too willing to soften the blow for our audience and ourselves. Either way, I think we’re getting better at that too.

There is, however, still sufficient truth in the table, and sufficient difference between what Brits say and what they mean – and differences between two situations is of course the root of humour – for it to be seriously funny.

I did a survey recently for a customer who was looking to establish how their B2B customers preferred to receive communications.

The demise of email has been touted for as long as social media platforms have been around. Younger generations like millennials are simply not into email any more, we’re told. They’re all about chat and instant communication in its various different guises.

Interesting, then, that the standout preference was for getting stuff via email. Yes, folk get loads of emails and no, they don’t read many of them. They still want them, though, so they can mine them and sort them if they need to refer back to something. Alternatively, they might mark them as unread for a later date. They want well crafted emails so that they can tell instantly whether or not they want to engage. So it’s still about value then. The cream rises to the top and the good stuff gets read and actioned.

Admittedly, my survey was less than 20 one-to-one conversations with a cross section of business owners and ecommerce managers, but the feedback is telling and informative nonetheless, methinks.

Internet-based chat works of course, socially. It’s mimicking what we do in person. C2C and B2C usually lead the way for B2B to follow, and this same trend may eventually sweep up email as well, but probably not before the latest generation is the current generation and the mainstay of our economic growth.

It’s easy for us to think we’re doing a great job of staying close to our customers or our staff. We’re sending regular emails, having regular meetings, touching base as often as we can.

We tend to forget one simple, inalienable fact. Communication does not equal engagement.

Your customers are not buying from you because they’re not engaged.

Your staff are not changing the way they do things because they’re not engaged.

It’s a question of commitment. Think of eating your egg and bacon. The chicken was involved, but the pig was committed…

Communication does not equal engagement, and engagement is what you need, if you want to achieve or change something. You need to start involving people earlier, getting their buy in, and asking them the why questions, starting with why they’re not engaged, why they’re not committed.