Failure to Communicate

If I started the quote, “What we’ve got here…” I have no doubt you would immediately chime in with the response “… failure to communicate.” The infamous line from Cool Hand Luke. (Whether or not you add the southern drawl is up to you.) And that’s followed up with “Some men you just can’t reach.”

Ah, the challenges of communication. You’ve got to get your message out of your own head and into the head of your receiver. Your receiver might be listening or reading, but either way, getting the message clearly from sender to receiver has plenty of hurdles along the way. First, there are physical hurdles. If you’re speaking, can you be heard? Yelling safety instructions over a noisy piece of machinery may not be the best choice. If you’re on the phone, is there static or break-up that’s interfering with the message? If your receiver is only hearing every other word and you’re only hearing every other word in the reply… well, that could make for a very interesting conversation and an even more interesting outcome.

While we are, for the most part, past the challenge of deciphering poor handwriting with the rise of electronic communication, typos and missing (or incorrect) punctuation can distort the message. The classic example is the title of Lynne Truss’s punctuation guide, Eats, Shoots & Leaves. One comma makes all the difference: “Eats shoots and leaves” describes a panda’s diet. “Eats, shoots and leaves” describes what a pistol-packin’ panda might do if he was displeased with the menu choice. And if you’re not up-to-date on texting acronyms and lingo, you might as well try to decipher a different language.

The first step in avoiding failures to communicate is to ensure that your message is leaving you, the sender, accurately. You know what you want to say, but you’ve got to say it right. Those pesky commas and errant typos can distort what you mean to say in a heartbeat. Getting your message out correctly is the easiest and most controllable aspect of good communication. The good news? I can help you with your outbound messages whether they’re informational or marketing-related. Contact me ( or 484-769-8897) so we can get you over the first hurdle.

Stay tuned for the next hurdle: targeting.

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