Thursday, April 11, 2013

Getting attention

What seems to garner attention these days? It certainly isnt success. More often than not it is failure. Failure it seems, is quite the motivating force. Politicians use the perception of failure in concise talking points. Sometimes they use absolute failure but more often than not they never let the truth get in the way of a good story. This attracts both kinds of attention: The people that agree with you love your refreshing honesty and the people that disagree with repeat your talking point and explain why it is wrong in some nuanced fashion. Double the message at half the price!

Even in social media on a personal level. Speaking about something calmly and rationally gets some attention. But making a scene, getting "facts" "wrong", well that is an entirely engaging flame war for the masses. Everyone wants to take their turn at the pinata that you just happened to leave near a giant baseball bat.

The other ways of getting attention usually involve solid communication skillz. Relating on a personal level, unleashing some passion, being vulnerable, expressing yourself on a deep emotional level. These garner a different kind of attention, perhaps. They seem to be places that resonate from within, in a way that is just as expressive but can also be deeply constructive. The "I have been there" attitude, "I know what that is like".  You know these conversations. they occur on topics outside of controversy, or perhaps we practice them outside of controversy and dont bring them to the flame war party.

We have to choose to behave like this. To attract attention to those things we care about on a personal level, to treat other people as if we share a perspective and thus can relate. To become "friends" before we hammer out our discourse. After all it isnt the perspective that blocks us from acheiving this, its the pollution from "I am right and you are wrong" attitude. A contamination of the communication environment. Its hard to make any point when you have to absorb all the nastiness in your first breathe before you get your words out.

So ask yourself: Are you contributing to the pollution? Are you selling your point of view or are you collecting information to update your perspective or perception?

We cant be perfect in every conversation. So dont expect other people to be. But at least give a listen and try to understand. Make them identify their assumptions and you should identify yours. After all the point isnt to get attention in the first place. Its to communicate.