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November 15, 2007

The meaning of the communication is the response you get

"The meaning of the communication is the response you get" is a key principle of effective communication - and one of the presuppositions of NLP.  It's a presupposition that is pretty important to me both as a writer and a coach, and I pay attention to the associated calls to action, to:

  • take responsibility as a good communicator to explain what you mean
  • pay attention to feedback from the other person

(Source: The NLP Workbook by Joseph O'Connor)

And I do pay close attention to the feedback I get from all of you - in the comments here and on some of the social media sites too.  But I really had to stop and think when I read a comment on the StumbleUpon review page for Confident Writing.  While it's wonderful to see positive comments from readers there, what was concerning to me was the comment from Geekwriter that comments at Confident Writing were only open to TypePad users. 

Now as the site owner I know that's not the case - but it's not much use me knowing that if other people are picking up a different message.  And comments, as you know, are very important to me - it's like the lifeblood, the oxygen that breathes life into a blog - and I'd hate to think that I was doing something (unwittingly) that was putting people off.

So I had another look at the wording at the top of the TypePad comment box.  It's based on the default setting, offering an optional sign in for TypeKey users.  At the top of the comment box it says:

"If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In"

Now, I know that this is just an option, not a requirement.  But when I looked at it again (with a fresh pair of eyes) I could see that it was perfectly possible to interpret it the other way, that you can only comment if you're a TyepeKey or Typepad user.

I'm sure there's a better way of expressing this - but as I'm not being paid by TypePad to write copy I haven't taken the time to work out the right form of words.  I've just switched off the option.

Hardly anyone ever comments via a Typekey account so (fingers crossed) I'm not making commenting more difficult for some people by switching it off.   

And I'm hoping that it's now a lot clearer that this comment box is most definitely open for business.

But that's just my take on it.  The real answer depends not on my communication of the message, but, of course, on the response that I get...


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"The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished." - George Bernard Shaw

I've run into a similar issue with legacy documents at work. They've been used so long, we don't take the time to review them to see if they're still applicable. Until early this year, we mentioned sending in work to us on 3-1/2" floppy on several forms. . .do they even sell floppy discs any more?

Hi Erik - that's a great quote, thanks. Going to add that one to my list :-)

The point about legacy documents is a useful reminder too - I guess we can all get lazy about stock words, phrases and whole documents. As a former civil servant I can remember all too well those gruesome letters with stock phrases and lines to take that had been cut and pasted from one document into another - although the end result might have been 'safe' and accurate I'm sure it didn't mean too much to the person at the receiving end...


psychological barriers are the main thing in communicating effectively.

Hi Rubab

Thanks for stopping by to the site. I'm interested in your comment - but can't quite decide what I think about it. Because I spend a lot of time looking at words and writing I tend to think that language has a lot to do with it - but I guess it's hard to separate language from psychology if you track it far enough...

Food for thought for sure


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