Unexpected ground

A few years ago, I used Hemingway’s 6-word novel “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” in a keynote to illustrate a point about storytelling. What I didn’t know was that there was a man in the audience whose daughter had been born dead two weeks earlier.

It was an unforgettable reminder for me that people hear what we say in the context of their own experiences. Those experiences can be drastically different from our own.

We certainly can’t always foresee these experiences. Nor can we account for any possible experience someone might have had.

But it’s a good attitude to be sensitive to the possibility. And to be respectful when we recognise that our words have hit unexpected ground.

How clear is your thinking?

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Turn on the light

You see things that I don’t. The beauty of communication is that for most things I don’t need to be you to see them as

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Let me repeat this for you

When people don’t get what you mean, repeating what you said – using the exact same words – won’t make it easier to understand. (Here’s an alternative.)

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz


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