Big Little Things

Clarity is over-rated

This post by Grant McCracken is right on.

…how important it is to have noise in the signal, noise in the brand, noise in the corporation.

If once the meaning managers of the corporation hoped for perfect clarity, now they know that clarity is a problem, a barrier, and a failure.

Hells yes. We’ve talked before about this with the problem of the elevator pitch: how it’s very clarity kills conversation, and limits your own growth and the potential of your relationships.

But today we don’t want to talk about elevator pitches. We want to talk about conversation, what motivates it, and what you can do to keep it going. Here’s a few more lessons from our month-long moratorium on small talk.

Be vulnerable
If you want conversation to happen, you’ve got to open yourself up to it. You’ve got to be willing to be changed by the person you’re talking to. But most of us aren’t—instead we’re trying to change them.

Don’t panic
In any conversation, there’s gonna be scary moments of misunderstanding (hmm…can you explain what you do again? I don’t really get it) and you’ll be tempted to fall back on easy answers (Oh, well. I’m in marketing) that take you back into safe territory. But safe territory isn’t where good conversation happens. It’s okay not to know where the conversation is leading. You’ll find out together.

Be cool with quiet
Some people see the lulls in conversation as problems, or moments of failure. But they’re not. Your silence among friends and loved ones signals comfort and trust. And you can send that same signal to someone you’ve just met simply by being okay with the silent parts of the conversation. This may be the fastest way to build intimacy and rapport. Which is what good conversation is all about.

One Response to “Clarity is over-rated”

  1. Richard Oliver Says:

    Robert Louis Stevenson has some interesting stuff to say about talk and conversation, if you can read past the archaic language and implicit sexism. The two chapter on Talk and Talkers from his “Memories and Portraits” can be found online here and here.

    One of the bits I like is in the open of the first chapter:

    “Literature in many of its branches is no other than the shadow of good talk; but the imitation falls far short of the original in life, freedom and effect. There are always two to a talk, giving and taking, comparing experience and according conclusions. Talk is fluid, tentative, continually “in further search and progress”; while written words remain fixed, become idols even to the writer, found wooden dogmatisms, and preserve flies of obvious error in the amber of the truth.”

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