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Don't Tweet at 3 AM

Or, How to Be A Better Communicator


by Matthew Vanderhorst, Community and Information Services Director, City of Montgomery, Ohio

With the proliferation of social media, we have lost the art of communicating effectively, especially in-person. Sure, you can talk to someone, but are you sure they are listening?

Many people have read articles and participated in workshops about innovation, creativity, teamwork, management, and leadership. These are important topics, but without a solid foundation of communication, everything else is harder to accomplish.

With the proliferation of social media and tweeting, snapping, poking, toting, or plain old messaging or texting, we have lost the art of communicating effectively, especially in-person. Sure, you can talk to someone, but are you sure they are listening?

Have you ever tried to carry on a conversation with someone and… Wait, my phone is buzzing.

Have you ever tried to carry on a conversation with someone and you are confident that they are not listening or… Sorry, I must take this call.

Here are seven habits you can change today to communicate better in-person or even become a positive tweeter!

  1. Don’t gossip. It is so tempting, but the only certainty is that someone will gossip about you.
  2. Don’t judge. As a Myers Briggs ISTJ, I can be judgmental, but at least I’m better than ENFPs who believe it’s all about relationships.
  3. Avoid negativity. Like a spiral slide at the playground, once you start going down, it’s tough to stop. If you do manage to stop, you probably have burns on your hands.
  4. Don’t complain. See #3.
  5. Don’t make excuses. Are you the person who throws around excuses like pennies in a fountain? Making excuses is a great way for people to lose trust and confidence in you.
  6. Don’t exaggerate. Is everything excellent, superior, groundbreaking, extreme, tremendous, or awesome? If you always exaggerate, what will you do if you actually have something important to say?
  7. Don’t let your cell phone be a tether. There was a time, not too long ago, when important things happened, and they were taken care of, and we didn’t have a cell phone to “be in the loop.” How did we ever manage?

We were taught to avoid six of these habits by our parents and teachers. The seventh is a new phenomenon. With the avalanche and perceived immediacy of information that is thrust on us on a minute-by-minute basis and the desire to not miss any of it, we sometimes forget about the basics of communicating with each other. By not falling victim to these seven habits, the chances are good that you will come across as more sincere, trustworthy, and capable and your message is more likely to be received and internalized. Because really, all we want is… Oh, look, it’s keyboard cat!

Note: This article was inspired by a Ted Talk given by Julian Treasure and titled, "How to Speak so that People Want to Listen."

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Jurisdictions

City of Montgomery, OH