Tell me about it

Tell me about it

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”
— George Bernard Shaw.

This morning, I turned off my iPhone’s auto-correct. It had become very unhelpful, especially when using Duolingo. If you haven’t heard of Duolingo, it’s a great language-learning App, and it’s free! No, I’m not a paid influencer, just an ex-language teacher.

Lessons require you to swap between native and foreign language text. Auto-correct makes this difficult, changing the text according to the language selected for your keyboard. Paradoxically, forcing you to check on spell check — all the time! And I wasn’t checking, I was racing to hit continue, to give my next answer. To hear the ‘ding’. See the green of success!

“Well, you should check your answers,” I hear you say.

Correct!

However, when:

— you’ve freshly discovered Duolingo’s Leaderboard

— you achieve first place on Silver

— you make it all the way to the top of the Gold Leaderboard, only to be wiped off the top spot by someone called Marta … you race, citing competition as your excuse

Time was of the essence. My answers were correct before auto-correct ‘corrected’ them. Marta had been strategic. Yup, she had me fooled. We had equal scores with only four hours left in the competition. She took off with less than an hour to go, answering questions adding points galore to her score. What?!

Maybe that had been my plan too, but hey, Marta beat me to it. I threw in the towel with seven minutes left — beaten to first place by an unknown competitor somewhere in the world. And while we didn’t speak, and likely never will, there was a communication of sorts. I admired Marta’s strategy and its execution.

It was then I began to contemplate how we communicate, how it can happen in so many different ways — my Duolingo experience, a subtle example.

I’ve little doubt our scores increased, our language learning was greater due to our silent competition across the globe — or from around the corner … We were helping each other achieve, unlike auto-correct, and it was fun.

It got me thinking a little more. Marta and I had communicated. A beneficial result had been achieved for each party. It was then I realised how puzzled I remain by the way people continue to communicate en masse on social media platforms.

The silence that can occur when information is shared, a question is asked — or worse still — a response of brutal proportions is given. Not to mention the number of people, particularly on LinkedIn, ‘honoured’ or ‘privileged’ to be somewhere, attending something that’s always ‘great’.

The language of silence, brutality and privilege seems to rule social media platforms: the first rendering them broadcast, the second war zones, the third somehow too self-promotional — Disclaimer Alert: For me at least.

I find social media platforms increasingly encouraging a two-dimensional ‘social’ language that’s becoming somewhat tedious. And I have to confess, it’s feeling a bit like auto-correct. I want to turn it off.

I’m very happy to read about professional experiences, better still, who people meet at events, what people do there, even their single biggest ‘takeaway’. But I no longer want to know them as ‘honoured’ or ‘privileged’ to attend, yet another ‘great’ event.

Why was the event, or organisation, great?

Help me feel something about your event, the company or the organisation.

Tell me a story.

Make me want to get there.

Share a moment of conversation.

Many professionals already do this, engaged as they are in their own race to the top of the Diamond Leaderboard, likely working on their strategy for success as I type this. A word of caution to them, watch out for Marta!

Great communication makes us think, feel and do something.

Give me the details.

The challenge is yours.

Article Image: “East Side Gallery” Berlin, 2010 © Geoff Jaeger