But, on the other side of the coin, are the people who don’t have life so good. One such person, a blind man ravaged by the complexities of life, was sitting on the steps of The Empire State Building.
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Like others in his position with no friends and family, he held a brown cardboard sign that said, “I am blind, please help.” The citizens of New York saw this kind of thing almost every day and only a few were touched enough to drop a few coins in his shabby blue hat.
One Good Samaritan who had been observing from a distance understood what was happening. As he walked up to the blind man, he dropped a few coins in his faded blue hat and then rewrote the sign to better communicate the blind man’s message.
When he finished he told the blind man “good luck” and walked away.
A few minutes later, the effects of the sign began to pay off.
The first person to walk by dropped some change and a few dollars. The second person did the same thing. This continued for hours and the blind man was flabbergasted, wondering why people were being so generous today.
When the Good Samaritan finished up from the office that evening, he decided to pass in front of the Empire State Building.
When he got to where the blind man was sitting down he asked a simple question.
“How did today go?”
“Oh, it’s you. I’ve been hoping you’d pass this way. What did you do to my sign.” The blind man asked with excitement.
“I just wrote it better.” The man said, kneeling down to drop a few coins in the cup.
“Well, what did you write?”
“Today is a beautiful day and I can’t see it. Good luck.” He said as way of parting and walked away.
It doesn’t take much to communicate well, you only need to understand exactly what you’re trying to say, and to whom you’re talking.
Although the basics of communication have remained the same (we still write and talk), everything else has changed.
Communicating effectively is probably one of the most difficult skills known to man. We can barely do it when we’re talking to people face to face let alone over an internet connection when someone is three thousand miles away.
The rise of the internet and getting your thoughts out in 140 characters has made it easier to develop your own voice in the world, but at a cost. You can now make glaring mistakes in the public eye and have it brodcasted all over the world in seconds.
Let’s not get into how emoji’s have made it easier to convey emotions through text, but have also left room for misinterpretation of your message.
Really, what does it mean to unfriend or unfollow someone? Should I take it as a personal affront or just keep rolling with the punches?
Some say communication has gotten lazy, but it’s doing like everything else in the world; evolving.
These days, we have so many mediums to communicate with our friends, family, and audience that we’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t take advantage of it.
Humans are hard wired to communicate. Some of the furthest reaching inventions ever created were based on the need to communicate.
The smoke signals, drum, the printing press, the telegraph, and the telephone were all created so we could communicate more easily.
Like the man holding up the sign in the introduction, just a basic form of communication that wasn’t working too well.
Before all the funny inventions that sprung up with the internet, *cough* kiss transmission device *cough*, we still communicated with our peers over long distances. It just took a very different form and wasn’t nearly as fast.
It may have taken weeks to get a letter to someone in a different country, then it sped up to days, then hours, not it’s all so damn instant that it’s scary.
In the current post internet age, newspapers have lost their hold on mass media and are playing catch up to twitter and Facebook (25% of the world’s internet traffic flowed through Facebook). The most important news is broken over these mediums and you can follow the most important stories in real time.
One of the most important social revolutions in recent history, The Arab Spring, was fueled on the back of activists using twitter as a platform to air their views on injustice across the Middle East.
YouTube was the platform of choice for showing the world exactly what was happening on the ground, and Facebook was how they organized protests.
The power to effect change has been snatched away from institutions like The New York Times and placed in the hands of influencers. Influencers who have a loyal following that understands and trusts them to deliver information about what they care about.
Even though our vocabulary is not as dynamic as it once was, there’s nothing stopping us from beaming our thoughts and feelings across countries and continents at the push of a button.
Some schools of thought say this is a bad thing, but when YouTube stars are getting their own Netflix series, I only see the possibilities of using the different communication mediums at our disposal.
Every day, most of the world connects to the internet and does everything from running an online business to catching up with friends and family they haven’t seen in a while.
These activities are the experiences of our daily lives and according to epigenetic research may be passed on to our offspring. Things such as trauma, loss, and interesting experiences have an effect not just on our psyches but on portions of our physiology that regulate DNA expression.
In essence, we may be transforming the way we communicate on more than a topical level. We can literally transfer our strongest developed traits to our children and children’s children.
Think about the way we maintain relationships now; text, infrequent calls, Skype chats, and everything in between. Is that how you want the future to be?
It’s an interesting as well as a scary thought.
Instead of strolling down the street and knocking on a friend’s door to ask if they want to get a bite to eat, it’s so much easier to shoot off a text message or an email these days.
I mean, according to a Pew Research study, 25% of married adults have texted their partners when they were home together.
Before the information age, we needed to talk to strangers in person, interact with them physically, and be exposed to their unique nuances before deciding whether to like or dislike them.
Now, we have visual storybooks like Instagram, social amplification tools like twitter, and online logs like blogs that allow us to immerse ourselves in another person’s reality without ever meeting them face to face.
We begin to know, understand, and like people we’ve never come into physical contact with and do it without a second thought.
How well do you think you know me from my writing? Can you imagine the kind of person I would be? Can you envision the way I’d walk, the way I’d laugh, the way I’d interact with you in person?
Relationships aren’t built solely through personal interaction anymore, but rather through acceptance of what others allow us to see online.
Is this a form of duplicity? Maybe, but it’s becoming the norm and smart entrepreneurs just like you are using it to their advantage.
I have close friends with whom I’ve shared some of my most personal experiences, but I’ve never sat down to have lunch with because we’re on opposite sides of the world.
The internet allows us to interact with people we wouldn’t have known otherwise. Essentially allowing you to build a micro multinational from anywhere with any amount of resources.
With the way communication has changed and the myriad avenues available to you, there’s only one question.
Will you use the changes we’re experiencing on an almost daily basis to thrive or will you remain a relic of a bygone era?
Before you jump in and start cold calling people halfway around the world or pumping out YouTube videos to create a strong brand and send traffic back to your site. Take a moment to apply these four tips so that no matter the medium you choose to communicate across, it’ll be effective.
Before you ever put pen to paper and start crafting those irresistible marketing messages, you need to listen. Listen to both what people are saying and what they’re not saying.
The second part, is, obviously, much more difficult.
You need to practice active listening.
This is the process of not only hearing what someone says but fully concentrating on what the message they’re trying to convey.
It’s not too difficult to listen to someone actively, just think about how you act when you’re hearing a really interesting story. You ask questions, you nod in agreement, and you keep your eyes and body facing the speaker.
I know it’s not really the same online, but you can still take adapt a few traits.
If someone needs to click on a button to buy then say “click here to buy” not “in order to get your hands on the life changing double detox miracle system all you need to do is use your mouse to press the shiny red button below”
I made that up, but here is an example from Plain English Campaign.
Most of what we write is filler copy that only confuses people (Yes, even I do it). Less is definitely more when it comes to communication. Consciously practice trying to get your message across with the least amount of words and see how it affects the clarity of your messages.
When I’m writing, I always keep the objective of my writing at the top of my page or on a sticky note attached to my computer.
If I start wandering off on a tangent, which I do quite often, this reminds me of the purpose of my article or copy.
It looks something like this
Conclusion/Call to action
And so on and so forth. This simple tweak can work wonders for how effectively you communicate, especially when you’re writing copy.
My messages, emails, and blog posts are never meant for a group of people. They’re only ever meant for you. I write for you to glean insights, I write for you to become the best version of yourself, and I write for you to get ahead in your personal and business life.
As long as you’re deriving value, I could care less about the other 3.17 billion people on the internet.
Since you’ve begun to understand how powerful communication can be it’s only right that you also only communicate with one person at a time so your message will have its desired effect.
Besides, have you ever tried talking to more than one person at once? It’s kind of hard getting your message across when everyone is being pulled in different directions.
Communication will always be at the forefront of human interaction. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a Skype call, writing a blog post, using grammar no one understands, or sitting across from someone over lunch.
Great organizations and amazing leaders are built on the back of extraordinary communication.
If you can’t communicate effectively, you will NEVER achieve your business and personal goals. Make it a point to establish effective communication as a top priority in your life. Both business and personal.
If you take communication seriously then you’ll reap the rewards, but if you don’t take it seriously then you’ll struggle to do anything effectively.
Now get out there and communicate.
Don’t forget to share and let me know what you think about effective communication in the comments.