News You Can Use To Improve Your Communications

Thought for the Day, August 16

“People who say they slept like a baby usually don’t have one.”

Leo Burke — as quoted by @qikipedia on Twitter.

Communication Best Practices: Eye Contact, Of Course!

Eye Contact

A few years ago I went “contra dancing” with some gregarious pals.  Contra is a kind of fast, whirly folk dancing in which one could easily get nauseous.  Every woman dances with every man, and there’s a lot of partner swapping.

The way to avoid losing your dinner is to lock eyes with each partner as he whirls you.  Shy people might try to look at their partners’ hair or ears.  However, this doesn’t work (I tried).  Only unbroken eye contact seems to keep dizziness at bay.

Eye contact as a communication best practice seems obvious.  And yet in our frenzied lives of hyperconnectivity through all manner of screened devices, it’s easy to forget to look at the people we’re talking to — to stop multitasking, look them right in the eye, and simply take in what they’re saying.

Sentient animals do this.  Our dogs and cats and horses and maybe even turtles and birds look us in the eye, and that’s where we make our connections.

Eyes communicate emotions in ways nothing else can.  It’s said that the Mona Lisa is “enigmatic” and “mysterious” because Leonardo left the corners of her eyes blurred.  He did this on purpose, apparently, so that her viewers can’t know exactly what she’s feeling.  To understand someone’s emotional communication, we need to see their eyes as well as hear the words they’re saying.

Sometimes the best practice for good communication is the simplest.  Eye contact isn’t rocket science, but we might need to remind ourselves to use it.

Creativity Tip #1: Break a Routine

Creativity isn’t all that mysterious.  In one sense, it’s just the rearranging of familiar things into a fresh relationship.  The things could be words, colors, or soup ingredients.

Imagine your creative self as a highly intelligent toddler.  She loves novelty.  She lives completely in the present moment.

Today, give your inner toddler something new and break a routine.  Start with a small routine — not a big one like your marital status.

Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.

Drive to the grocery store via a new street.

Sit in a new place at the dinner table.

As you do this, pay attention to your thoughts and feelings.  Are you even a tiny bit more engaged with the here and now?  Do you find yourself looking at other routine experiences a little differently?

Creativity is all about noticing and experiencing the familiar in a fresh, unexpected way.

The Bluebird of Soiled Blog Content

Imagine that you’ve washed your car window, and bird immediately nails it.

What happens?  Well, you probably see only the mess — not the glass you buffed to a streak-free shine.   In fact, the cleaner the window, the more you seem to see the bird doo-doo.

Don’t do this with your writing.

I’m talking about the following common mistakes that we see every day online.  Most of us know how not to make these errors.   But in our haste to share stellar content, we sometimes forget them.   We let fly with little blobs of word-poo and forget to clean them up.  The effect is especially jarring if our content, by contrast, shines bright.

If you’re prone to imperfect writing, I suggest keeping this list of common online writing errors near your computer.  And if you don’t know why they’re mistakes, call me…we’ll talk.

1:  Alot. 

2:  Your/you’re. 

3:  They’re/there/their. 

4:  Its/it’s. 

5:  Definately/Definatly/Defiantly

There are definitely more such common mistakes (not defiantly), but these are some I see the most.

Do you have others to add?

How to Make a Good Blog Post Bad — Part 1

As bloggers, we’re always looking for ways to improve our content.  Good ideas are essential, of course.  But it’s equally important to avoid reader turn-offs.  So, just for fun, I’d like to look at ways to ruin a good blog post.  

One great technique for ruining your post is to write a huge block of text.  Like this: 

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Blah.  This looks boring and daunting–traits you do not want in your content.  The solution?  Use formatting (bullet points, numbered lists, etc.), short paragraphs, or both. 

Here’s the same block of text with these rules applied.  It takes up more space, but looks a lot more inviting. 

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry!

Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged.

It was popularised in the 1960s with

  1. the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and
  2. more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker
  3. including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry.

  • Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.
  • It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged.
  • It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.
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