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Friday, May 11, 2018

Communication is what makes us human: More tips for thinking, writing and speaking in a world of quicksand communications

66. Throw out the authoritarian playbook. No one wants a dictator.

No one likes a bully or believes her, either. Any conversation is a two-way street.  Resist your fears. Never dominate a meeting or conversation with a torrent of words that allow for no questions, comments or, God forbid, actual conversation. It’s a great way to ruin your credibility and chances for any collaboration or support for your ideas.
67. Our stories are not up for debate. 
In our tense political climate, it’s natural to fall to the default, “I don’t want to talk about politics” or “I don’t want to bring up this topic, someone might be offended.” You can both keep the peace while you help move civilization forward a step or two by daring to be the person who asks questions and allows others to have their say. Steer the sensitive topics from the debate arena to their genesis. Ask, “Please tell me how you arrived at your ideas?” Anyone's story about their journey to their ideas tells us more about them than what we've already seen hashed over on cable news a million times. 
68. Humor is the secret sauce.
The most viewed TED Talk is by Sir Ken Robinson, who proposes radical changes to our education systems, while using humor in his presentation to build our trust and understanding of the changes he wants to see.
69. Even worms have a beginning, middle and end. So should our presentations.
Observe the ebb and flow of a TV sitcom, a movie or a TED Talk. It’s a dance of words, movement and emotions.  We are hard-wired to listen to stories. That’s how we learned for millennia. When it’s our job to teach or sell an idea to an audience, start with a brief story that has a beginning, middle and end.  The structure of a story can be circular, with the end tying back to the start in some way, or it can be open-ended, presenting us with various options to consider.
70. What is the most awkward?
For years I walked the halls of colleges and watched the interactions of students. There were always groups chatting and other groups with their eyes on their still- unfinished assignments. The advent of social media brought with it more students glued to their smartphones and laptops and noticeably less flirting in the hallways. Sure it's easier to be in a bubble, but  we learn more from interactions in the face-to-face world. Just notice if once in a while you are up for shaking up the new order and saying hello.  It may surprise you to notice how good it makes you feel to converse with a real person who, yes, might reject you or turn away, but who may also choose to say hello back at you.

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