Compared to you, the people you’re communicating with (customers, colleagues) don’t have the whole story. They don’t know each and every detail, they can’t see every tiny nuance.
How could they? They aren’t you.
What they have is the information they get from you, and a whole lot of blanks.
Most of these blanks get filled in by things outside of our control: their worldview, their filters, the mood they’re in that day. But some of them are filled by the story they tell themselves about our product or about us. And the last few are empty for no good reason, because we’ve not communicated the right things to them in the right way.
This means we have two jobs.
First, and always, to communicate better, with more empathy about what the world looks like from where they’re sitting and more specificity about what we want them to feel, believe and do after they hear from us.
And second, to remember that each time we communicate, we’re doing so on two levels:
On the level of what we say, we are transmitting information, content and meaning.
On the level of how we say it, we are building out the scaffolding that they’ll use to fill in future blanks about us: future expectations about who we are, our personality, our intent, and how much we can be trusted.
Think of it as two stories: the one they’ll remember today, and the one that will inform how they fill in the blanks tomorrow.
(Speaking of blanks to be filled in: welcome to all of you who just showed up thanks to Seth Godin’s blog post on Wednesday. I’m glad you’re here and thanks for subscribing! And for those of you who didn’t see that post, you might want to check out a few other blogs Seth recommended: Gabe, Fred, Bernadette and Rohan.
As Seth mentioned, this blog has a backlist of more than 1,000 posts on all sorts of topics including storytelling, generosity, fundraising and sales, social change, leadership, and a lot more. Mostly, posts are a mirror of what’s on my mind, ideas I’m working through, and ideas and advice that I’ve found (or, more often, am still finding) useful.
These days, you should expect 1-2 posts per week in your inbox, so if you’re not getting them check your spam filter.
Comments are welcome, sharing posts with friends is a gift, and if you want to reach me I’m easy to find: firstname.lastname@example.org)