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Are You Being Clear?

It’s not hard to unfollow narcissists.
Jan | 19 | 2011

Jan | 19 | 2011

A few weeks ago, I finished the Heath brothers’ book Made to Stick. In a nutshell, it’s not hard to understand why it’s a bestseller. Their simple yet powerful model helped me understand what I could do to write and speak better. If you haven’t read it, wait no longer.

What do you want?

Against this backdrop, I couldn’t help but chuckle when a “friend” of mine on Facebook recently reached out to her network for feedback. Equipped with far too much free time and trapped in my home as the snow plows worked their magic, I offered to help, sending her my number. For two reasons, I wanted to do this over the phone:

  • She wasn’t clear about what type of feedback she wanted.
  • Even if she were, “What do you think about X?” is more of a conversation than an email.

Long story short, she didn’t have time to talk. Hmmm ….

Now, I’m not winning any communication awards. I like to think that I’m clear with others, but it’s not like I bat 1.000.

If you want specific feedback, make yourself clear. If you doubt the importance of clarity or already think that you’re always communicating clearly, check out the Heath brothers’ book. Everyone can improve. What’s more, even if you are clear, have time to take people up on their offers. Else, don’t put it out there. An open window now may close tomorrow, if not sooner.

Stop telling me what you want?

Of course, at the other end of the spectrum are people who make themselves far too clear. These are the folks who use social media not as conversation starters and tools to maximize engagement, but as thinly veiled marketing efforts. You know these folks. Their tweets all essentially equate to “BUY MY STUFF!!!” or “HIRE MY COMPANY.”

Social media-savvy folks can know that effectively using these tools means avoiding these two extremes. Yes, make sure that you’re clear with people about your message or your intent. At the same time, though, don’t overdo it. Allow room for disagreement and participation.

Also, while you may not want to promote your competitors’ blog posts or news, realize that it’s not all about you. Tweet general interest articles, news, and industry events. It’s not hard to unfollow or blog those who are clearly only interested in telling you how great they are.


What say you?


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  1. Stacey Cornelius

    Loved that book.
    I wonder how many of the people who use social media to blat incessantly about their product or service would do that at a cocktail party.
    In some cases, I think it’s intimidation–people get it into their heads that they can’t write, or can’t “network,” so they overcompensate (or panic a little).
    When it’s just you and your keyboard, it’s easy to forget social media is a conversation, and conversations are a two-way street.

  2. Guy Farmer

    Great perspective Phil.  I’m reminded of the idea that communication is about building relationships and finding ways to connect with people on a deeper level.  This frequently requires stepping outside ourselves a bit and thinking about the other person.

  3. Stray__Cat

    When I stopped using twitter as a mace, my followers base grew slowly but steadily. Today I’m much more focused on spreading the ideas I care than talking my product.
    It’s very fulfilling!


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