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How to communicate

Communication is all about the right mindset. And that means embracing the idea that there’s no such thing as a failure of understanding, only a failure to communicate effectively.

Of course, this may not always be totally true in all circumstances. But as a general rule of thumb for communicators of all kinds, it works just fine.

If you’re writing, explaining something, teaching, then you need to make sure that you get the message across in a way that your audience can understand. If they don’t get it, it’s your fault, not theirs.

This is true when talking to a stranger at a party or addressing a hall full of people.

It’s something most copywriters would understand instinctively (or at least, you’ld hope they would). It’s something most effective communicators would never really need to be told. It’s probably second nature to them.

But it’s also true that huge numbers of people just don’t get this. Those people who write instructions for mobile phones, perhaps.
The arrogant guy in the bar pontificating at people who are too slow to follow his argument. The impatient business exec sniping at the temp who’s had no training.

The IT guy who doesn’t explain how to use his software, or even why, just gives you a list of changes made since the last version.
The bottom line is that if you want to communicate then the onus is on you to get it right. Make an effort to explain, rather than expecting people to understand.

This is especially true in mass communications, be it journalism, writing a blog or creating your own marketing materials. It’s so much better for one person to make the effort to explain things clearly than for dozens, hundreds, thousands to have to wade though poorly written copy. Especially as they can always stop reading, and move on.

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  • Simon November 4, 2007, 2:59 pm

    Checking to see if comments are working