Good communication is simple.
Everything good is simple. Delicious dishes are simple. No elaborate recipe. No fuss. Some pasta, cream, Gorgonzola – and that’s Gorgonzola pasta. Three or four tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, salt and pepper – that’s all you need to make a Caprese salad. The same goes for ideas. Good ideas are simple. If it can’t be told to you in a lift within three minutes, it’s not just that you might forget it – you will forget it. If you want to say something and can’t do it in just a few simple sentences – you should stay away from it: the message won’t reach anyone – nor will it be taken on board.
One good criterion for successful communication? Party talk. Imagine you’re at a party – and there’s a great guy there who you simply want to get to know. How do you introduce yourself? What do you say about yourself? What do you reveal about yourself? What do you want to want to find out in return? If you say something wrong he’ll be gone. To the cold buffet. Or completely gone. Swept away. By the blonde. The brunette. Regardless of who it is. The opportunity is gone. And what’s even more difficult is if you just want to impress the blonde. Or the brunette. Or the red head. Because if you can’t find the right words now, you can try on Tinder again tomorrow.
But if it works – then how does it go? It’s nice. In fact, really nice. Not like the little sister of someone we don’t really want to go out with – but actually really nice. Nice might not seem extraordinary at first glance. Perhaps not really that exciting. But nice is friendly. Nice doesn’t hurt you and so you want to surround yourself with nice. Because nice is much better than its reputation if you look a little closer. Nice is charming. Nice is unobtrusive. Nice is a flirtation with which people prefer to engage whilst keeping open the possibility of being able to safely withdraw from it. But if there’s no reason to withdraw from the events then you stay in the game for longer. Then the other person doesn’t escape to the cold buffet, and instead you both stand in the queue together and shovel snacks onto your plates. And if it’s going really well, you might even try something from the other’s plate. And before you know it, you’re picking up the same cocktail from the tray offered by the attentive waiter. In short, if it’s still quite nice then, it might not seem exciting from the outset, but it definitely has the potential to be exciting. Daiquiri instead of harakiri.
So much for nice. But how simple is simple? If you can talk to your party flirt naturally, just like you talk with your neighbour over the hedge, then it’s simple. Over the hedge, you don’t get complicated – unless it’s about the wire mesh fence and the border dispute (but that’s a topic for a legal blog). If your neighbour asks you what you do for work because he’s been wanting to ask you that for a while, then don’t lose yourself in the details. As a professor for molecular biology, you’re unlikely to decode your neighbour’s alpha helix among the barberry. You’ll simply say that you research how to cure hereditary diseases. And you won’t tell them in a long-winded way. You’ll keep it short and snappy, in one or two minutes – after all, dinner’s on the table and the hedge still needs trimming. In other words, it’s like Sesame Street for adults.
But if your neighbour watches a documentary on BBC 2 called ‘Genes, gender, generations’ three weeks later, he’ll probably remember your explanation of molecular biology. And he’ll remember this even if you explained it to him in really simple terms. So, if you can talk to your party flirt like you would your neighbour over the hedge, then you have a real chance of getting their attention – and ordering another gin and tonic. Because then you’ve not acted like someone who brags or shows off. But rather – someone who’s nice.
And the clearer you say what you do and see what your counterpart has to say, the greater the chance that your counterpart – on their side of the hedge – will join the queue with you on the way to the buffet or perhaps they’ll give you all of their attention, on your side of the screen (like you are giving to me, if you’ve read this far). The more likely it is that he – or now you – will have film images in your head of parties, conversations with neighbours when trimming the hedge, or even elevator pitches. All of the situations in which you tell someone something so that they – or you – continue to listen or read until you arrive at this very point. Here, at the end. With me.
If you did, we should actually talk in person about everything else. About everything else that still shapes good communication. Communication for brands and their image. Communication for their products and what they bring their users. About storytelling or whatever you want to call it – when a story stops just being a story because you’ve long since become a part of it.
As already mentioned – it would be great to continue the conversation in person. Perhaps not with a gin and tonic straight away, but our coffee is great:
Creative Consulting/Group Head Text
christoph.siwek (at) schindlerparent.de