December 20, 2007

Three Communication Tips: Jokes, Length, Offense

In the days of my youth,
I was told what it means to be a man.
Now I've reached that age,
I've tried to do all those things the best I can.
--- Led Zeppelin, Good Times Bad Times
Now that I'm a man, I'm being told how to present better. Before a session this week, I got three tips:
  1. Skip the jokes: if you think it's funny, it isn't
  2. Keep it short: the brain can't absorb more than the seat can bear
  3. Avoid offending anyone: (examples given which I won't repeat)
The first two were easy. I only know banker's jokes (you know, the ones where only the tellers laugh?). As usual, I ended on time even though we started late. What about the third one?

Speak No Evil
Furthermore, I hope my meaning won’t be lost or misconstrued.
--- Paul Simon, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover
Naturally, I mind my language but the mildest statements can be taken the wrong way. At 13 letters, "Merry Christmas" ties with "life insurance" as the longest four-letter word. How can that be?
Quick to judge. Quick to anger. Slow to understand.
Ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand in hand.
--- Rush, Witch Hunt
We don't know what's going on in the lives of others. You may innocently say "have a nice day" to someone who's going to work or "good evening" to someone who's going home to wrap presents or "enjoy the holidays" to someone with kids. It's so easy to cause offense ;)

Bland On The Run
When it comes to clients, if we're too careful we risk sounding bland and boring. Forgettable. Since communication is primarily nonverbal, how much do the words matter anyway? We can usually understand what was meant. Let's hope that others follow a universal principal of reciprocity.
My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?
--- Bob Hope
This is my last post in 2007.

All the best to you and yours during the holidays.
May your 2008 be really great!

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